Guest Opinion: China's stabilizing efforts will help calm tensions in the Middle East-Xinhua

Guest Opinion: China's stabilizing efforts will help calm tensions in the Middle East

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-05-14 21:06:00

by Julia Roknifard

Amidst the ongoing tensions and the looming threat of further escalation in the Middle East, a distinct player has emerged: China, with its unique and stabilizing approach to the region.

In the past, the region was a "playground" for the United States, to the detriment of countries from Lebanon to Iraq. The once self-proclaimed hegemon is seeing itself increasingly isolated over its continuous interventionist policies that have perpetrated one major tragedy after another.

At present, tensions between Israel and Iran appear to be nearing a boiling point, a spillover effect of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict in Gaza. Regrettably, the collective West, led by the United States, has stoked tensions rather than mitigated them.

A case in point is the U.S. refusal to assume any mediator role, frustrating the international community's efforts to forge a peaceful resolution at the United Nations.

However, there are alternative pathways worth considering. China presents a distinct model that emphasizes leveraging international organizations to quell tensions. The Asian country has actively worked to empower these organizations as platforms for dialogue and peacebuilding.

China has already built a solid track record as a major provider of humanitarian aid, a champion of development and integration and, most notably, a broker of an unprecedented rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

This reconciliation between the two rivals has set the benchmark for diplomacy, mediation and constructive dialogue, with China demonstrating remarkable skills in its efforts. The outcome has yielded a historic peace dividend for both nations and earned the respect of the region, which harbors similar aspirations as it navigates several major and minor conflicts.

Even amid the raging conflict in Gaza, marked by daily bombings and a tragic toll on Palestinian civilians, China has staunchly backed the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. This support aims to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the conflict despite the West's attempts to portray the organization as colluding with extremist forces.

Moreover, China does not have the historical baggage of the West, whose colonialism and arbitrary partitioning of the region along ethnic and religious lines have resulted in the region's tragic disorder that persists into the present era. Seeking profits through tensions, the West has supplied weapons, toppled legitimate governments and imposed exploitative economic practices.

As a steadfast advocate for globalization, free trade and development through initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative, China promises a better future -- a reality not lost on the people of the region.

While some may profit from instigating regional conflicts, China has instead sought to do business, not short-term economic "raids," but long-term, stable deals that help promote regional economic development.

Take the 25-year comprehensive cooperation plan that China and Iran signed in 2021. The agreement, which spans energy, infrastructure, manufacturing, technology and healthcare, will benefit both sides.

China has also supported the resumption of negotiations on implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which would normalize ties between Iran and the international community and brighten the country's prospects.

Meanwhile, this helped lay the groundwork for the reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the latter of which has inked a comprehensive strategic partnership with China. It has also proven that economic development and progress can be effectively leveraged to promote dialogue and peace.

Additionally, China's increasing engagement with the Gulf Cooperation Council and support for the Middle East Green Initiative have also helped alleviate the repercussions of climate change and boost regional collaboration in achieving environmental objectives.

Given China's accomplishments in the region -- previously deemed unthinkable just a few years ago -- let us look forward to what China will likely achieve amid waning U.S. influence, as the superpower appears to be hyper-focused on provoking conflicts rather than boosting growth and development in the Middle East.

With the joint efforts of China and regional countries, the seemingly interminable conflicts in the Middle East may finally be settled.

The Middle East, connecting Europe, Asia and Africa, will no longer be a barren land of wasted potential but a region of beauty, progress and opportunity. Those set on holding on stifling the region's progress will ultimately be left behind.

Editor's note: Julia Roknifard is an assistant professor at the University of Nottingham Malaysia.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Xinhua News Agency.