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Journalists and foreign affairs experts: “What’s up with China (China!) mediating an historic Iran-Saudi peace deal?” Think “hearts and minds”

China’s Role in Iran-Saudi Arabia Deal Shows Xi’s Global Goals

“Brokering a rapprochement between the Middle Eastern rivals underscores the Chinese leader’s ambition of offering an alternative to a U.S.-led world order.”

And a foreign affairs expert: “’This is a battle of narratives for the future of the international order,’ said Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center, a Washington-based research institute.”

And from Aljazeera:

 ‘Changing Global Order’: China’s hand in the Iran-Saudi deal

 “China brokering a deal between longtime Gulf rivals is ‘a broader sign of a changing global order’, analysts say.

“Robert Mogielnicki, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf State Institute in Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera the brokered deal is evidence of a growing Chinese presence and its increased interest in playing a role in the region.”

In addition to its vast geopolitical implications, China’s entry into the Mideast as a mediator should be seen as a landmark in international public diplomacy – i.e., public relations between or among nations. In other words, it is communicating bold policy generating favorable public awareness.

By its nature and scale a public relations shock to many, this new element in China’s current grand global strategy is by no means inscrutable. Janus-like, – such “soft power” twinned with economic/military strength – has long been apparent to the well-informed. For example, Peter Frankopan, Oxford University professor of global history, provided a summary of it in his provocative 2019 book, “THE NEW SILK ROADS, THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE WORLD”.

Frankopan channeled a President Xi  Jinping 2017 speech calling for “a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation … and we should forge partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation and of friendship rather than alliance.”

The author’s take on that kind of messaging: It should “demonstrate that China should not only be part of the global community of nations but could and should provide leadership that emphasizes the benefits of cooperation.”

Of course,  now – as president Xi enters his third term –  many subsequent events in Asia and other parts of the world have challenged the sincerity of, and dedication to, that mission.

Obstacles to the United States taking steps such as a Middle East mediator are many and complex. Nevertheless, Shalanda Young, director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget,  said, “We’re trying to make sure that we can outcompete them [China] when it comes to hearts and minds around the globe.”