In light of the Israel-Hamas conflict, Foreign Ministers from the Arab and Islamic countries recently met with the Chinese Vice-President in Beijing to discuss pathways towards peace in the region. Ministers from Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and Indonesia along with the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation were present in the meeting with Chinese delegates led by the Vice-President who seemed to indicate Beijing’s role in mediating the peace process.
To begin with, China’s attempts to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia was proclaimed by Beijing to be a game-changer that would alter the status of the historical dispute in the West Asian region. However, let alone from being a memorandum of understanding, the supposed reconciliation in the subsequent months has led to far greater enmity in the region than before the peace agreement.
With the events that took place on 7th October in Isarel at the behest of Hamas, it is evident that any form of reconciliation in relations in the region is far from the reality that prevails. China’s premature decision to make peace attempts between Riyadh and Tehran considerably played a significant part in escalating the ongoing conflict. With Arab countries seeking greater cooperation with Iran, the Palestinian cause was seen to be diminishing and more so, abandoned, by its Arab partners. One could in this respect denote that desperation of a failing cause led to terror attacks in Isarel.
Beijing attempts to mediate in West Asia also exposed its self-interested led objectives in the region. By attempting to supplant American superiority, China made it clear that its efforts seek to replace Washington as the global superpower as well as the go-to regional partner in West Asia. However, in the same process, China’s initiatives have clearly indicated its lack of understanding of regional differences and the delicate balance in which the region functions upon.
China’s Special Envoys have played a critical role in ensuring that the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts are projected as a mediator, however, these efforts have been more detrimental than making inroads towards peaceful resolution. The efforts also come at a time when China’s armed forces have been altering regional status quos in its neighbourhood. From the South China Sea to territorial boundaries with its neighbours, China’s aggressive behaviour has clearly demonstrated it disregard for peace in its neighbourhood. By presenting its global image as that of a global mediator, the CCP seeks to whitewash its encroachment strategies that it deploys around its own boundaries.
Moreover, the Party’s involvement in domestic politics of countries also helps in assessing Beijing’s growing desire to act as the power-broker. In 2021, the Party deputized a high-ranking officer to Nepal in order to broker a deal with Nepal’s Communist Party which was facing internal power tussles. These examples also reiterate the CCP’s will infiltrate within political differences of not only countries, but also to assert its influence in regional differences among states. These measures have only been expanding in recent years, causing far more danger than the Party would want to project it as peace-building measure. These aspects, therefore, also calls for greater caution from countries that are offered such form of power-brokering alternatives from Beijing, as they seem to escalate disputes rather than toning them down. More so, China’s own strategies contradict its will to mediate in international disputes. Beijing has by and large failed to settle its own regional disputes with neighbouring countries due to its superior stand in such conflicts. By provoking disputes in both territorial and maritime conflicts, China has clearly indicated its lack of leadership vision not only globally but also regionally. Therefore, countries must be wise while choosing Beijing as their trusted mediator who has majorly caused more damage to regional disputes than present peace as its objective as a mediator.