China’s Diplomatic Triumph: Saudi-Iran Reconciliation

One-Year Anniversary of Saudi-Iran Reconciliation; Global Security Initiatives Gain More Recognition

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Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug. 24, 2023. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

by Han Bo

March 10 marks the first anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, mediated by China and formalized through the joint signing of the Beijing Agreement. Over the past year, both countries have reopened their embassies and reinstated ambassadors. Notably, the President of Iran made his first visit to Saudi Arabia in 11 years, culminating in a “historic handshake” between the two heads of state, signifying a significant improvement in bilateral relations. China’s facilitation of reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran has served as a catalyst for easing tensions among Middle Eastern countries. Additionally, China’s global security initiatives are garnering recognition from an increasing number of nations.

Joint Efforts to Overcome Historical Resentment

On March 10, 2023, Saudi Arabia and Iran concluded seven years of hostility by reaching the “Beijing Agreement” with China’s mediation. The agreement, signed by all three parties, declared the resumption of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In April of the same year, witnessed by China, both countries signed a joint statement in Beijing, formally announcing the immediate restoration of diplomatic ties severed for seven years.

China played a pivotal role in mediating the restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, leveraging its amicable relations with both nations to foster communication and dialogue. As a responsible permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China focuses on synthesizing international experience, drawing insights from Chinese culture, actively participating in resolving international conflicts, and gradually formulating Chinese-characteristic solutions recognized by other nations.

Over the past year, Saudi Arabia and Iran have made strides in overcoming their resentment and enhancing their relationship. In addition to diplomatic progress, the two countries have bolstered economic and trade cooperation, as well as cultural exchanges. Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Iran, Abdullah Anzi, emphasized the importance of developing relations with Iran within the framework of Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030”. Furthermore, the Asian Football Confederation announced the resumption of home and away matches between Saudi Arabian and Iranian national teams and clubs, eliminating the need for neutral venues. In regional affairs, Saudi Arabia and Iran have engaged in direct communication and coordinated positions, particularly regarding the recent Palestinian-Israeli conflict, advocating for a swift resolution and expressing support for the just cause of the Palestinian people.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud (R) and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian attend a joint press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Aug. 17, 2023. (Xinhua/Wang Haizhou)

Contributing to Regional Peace

Amidst ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict and regional disputes exacerbated by certain countries hindering ceasefire efforts, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as the largest nations in the Persian Gulf and top two oil producers, possess irreplaceable political and economic influence in the Middle East. The thawing of relations between these two nations has positively contributed to regional peace and stability.

In the past year, Iran has improved relations with numerous countries. In October 2023, Iran and Sudan issued a joint statement, formally agreeing to restore diplomatic relations after seven years, emphasizing mutual respect, sovereignty, equality, mutual benefit, peaceful coexistence, and cooperation for regional security and stability. Additionally, Iranian President Raisi and Egyptian President Sisi met for the first time in Saudi Arabia in November 2023. Subsequently, Iran expressed optimism about restoring diplomatic ties with Egypt after over 40 years of strained relations, citing promising negotiations and a pathway to a new diplomatic chapter.

The reconciliation process has also made positive strides in other Arab nations in the Middle East: Syria rejoined the League of Arab States, and various countries including Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt resumed diplomatic relations or normalized ties. At the 32nd Arab League Summit in May last year, Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed emphasized the importance of peace, unity, cooperation, and development, pledging to prevent the region from becoming a conflict zone.

Widespread Recognition of China’s Approach

Over the past year, China’s diplomatic mediation efforts have yielded positive outcomes, including the resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, alleviation of tensions in northern Myanmar, and enhancement of Iran-Pakistan relations. These efforts have garnered high praise from relevant parties and the international community.

Abdul Aziz Shabani, a researcher at the Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, underscores that China’s successful mediation in restoring Saudi Arabia-Iran diplomatic relations stems not only from trilateral efforts but also from China’s effective implementation of global security initiatives in the Middle East. China’s security concepts and development models align with the aspirations for peaceful development among Middle Eastern countries, earning trust and recognition while fostering a deeper consensus on peaceful development among regional nations.

Analysts emphasize China’s active, well-intentioned, and reliable mediation approach, advocating for political resolutions to all hotspot conflicts. The reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran stands as a significant achievement for dialogue and peace, showcasing a pragmatic model for resolving disputes through dialogue and consultation with Chinese characteristics.

In navigating international affairs, China adheres to principles of non-interference in internal affairs, political settlements, objectivity, fairness, addressing root causes, and rejecting double standards or bias. China promotes dialogue and consultation over the use of force, coercion, pressure, or sanctions, striving to find common ground that accommodates the reasonable demands of all parties. Through patient diplomacy and global security initiatives, China aims to construct a safer international community, fostering broader participation and equitable benefits from peaceful development.

The writer is a journalist works for Legal Daily China

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