China Emerges as Broker in Middle East Conflict, Balancing Interests in the Region
In a surprising move, China has positioned itself as a neutral player in the Middle East, recently brokering a deal to help Iran and Saudi Arabia restore relations. This diplomatic success comes amidst China’s efforts to maintain distance during the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel, referring to itself as a “common friend” of both parties.
While China aims to be a mediator, it cannot ignore its high interests in the region, particularly due to its heavy reliance on oil. As the largest buyer of oil from Saudi Arabia, the world’s second-largest oil producer after the United States, China’s energy security is at stake. Approximately half of China’s oil imports and over a third of all oil consumed in the country come from the Persian Gulf.
Furthermore, China has been steadily increasing its oil imports from Iran, a long-time supporter of Hamas. In the past two years alone, China has tripled its imports of Iranian oil and remarkably purchased 87 percent of Iran’s oil exports just last month.
As the war between Israel and Gaza rages on, China’s dependence on oil from the region makes its stake in the conflict even more significant. Any disruption in the oil supply or escalation of the conflict could have a profound impact on China’s economy and energy security.
China’s approach to the Middle East conflict is rooted in its long-standing policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. This stance allows China to maintain its economic relationships without taking sides, ensuring a steady flow of crucial resources.
China’s neutrality has won it praise from both Iran and Saudi Arabia, who view the country as a reliable and unbiased partner. Western countries, however, have expressed concerns over China’s balancing act, criticizing its unwillingness to align with the international community.
Nevertheless, China’s growing presence in the Middle East underscores its ambition to be a global power and a key player in shaping regional dynamics. As tensions continue to simmer in the region, all eyes are on China’s ability to navigate its interests while maintaining its neutral stance.