Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Middle East eyes strategic diplomatic pivot to China

For a sign of the new business times, look no further than China’s success in brokering a pledge between Saudi Arabia and Iran to restore diplomatic ties. It’s a huge political win for Beijing. Xi Jinping has brokered a deal the United States would have found hard to secure, despite its traditional military influence in the Middle East. China’s president did so on the same day he officially secured a third term, and in the same week the People’s Republic paved the way for a $2.9 billion International Monetary Fund bailout for Sri Lanka by committing to reorganise the island’s debt. Both developments are constructive for global stability and suggest China can be a responsible big power. (https://neuters.de/breakingviews/middle-east-pivot-asia-is-strategic-this-time-2023-03-14/) This time, the interest appears more mutual and more strategic. Some policymakers think the world is splitting into two blocks, with the United States and Europe on one side, and a China-led Asia and Russia on the other. The reality is more complicated, but Asia’s growing hunger for energy means it has an incentive to get closer in more ways to Gulf petrodollar economies which have traditionally looked west for security, a place to sell their oil and gas, and to park their money.

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