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After Iran-Saudi mediation, China angles for another diplomatic win in Yemen – The Diplomat

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The recent flurry of diplomatic activity shows China’s eagerness to score soft-power points – and to establish a footing for investment in Yemen’s post-war reconstruction.

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At the April 17 meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Yemen, China’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Geng Shuang deferred to China’s success in helping to restore Iran–Saudi relations, while expressing a wish that other Middle Eastern countries “follow the general trend” toward peace. joining the united states request The representative said that with restraint from the Houthi rebels, China is “willing to continue efforts to promote regional peace and stability and realize lasting peace in Yemen.”

Geng’s speech would hardly seem remarkable if it were not for the fact that China’s rhetoric has been accompanied by intense diplomatic efforts. In just one month, Shao Zheng, in charge of China’s Yemen, Held Five separate meetings with members of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, a body formed in April 2022 that handles the powers of both the President and the Vice President. To put this in context, Shao held only one such high-profile meeting from last November to this March.

Chinese coverage of these meetings focused mostly on Yemeni praise for China’s mediation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as thanks for Chinese economic aid to the war-torn country. Both Shao and his interlocutors agree on the desirability of reaching an early peace settlement. While they give no indication that China plans to take a leading role in bringing about such a solution, the press release stresses the role of “China and other countries” in helping to achieve future success. Is.

The Presidential Leadership Council was supposed to unite various anti-Houthi groups from both southern and northern Yemen. However, as Gregory Johnson writesFinding common ground among the eight delegates has proved a difficult task. Apparently for this reason, Shao has been looking to leaders representing different interests. His recent diplomatic efforts have included meetings with council president and former presidential adviser Rashad al-Alimi, national resistance leader Tarek Saleh, the southern movement’s de facto leader Aidras al-Zoubaidi, and pro-Western governor Sultan Ali al-Arada.

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In recent weeks, Shao has met with Antony Hayward, military adviser to the UN Special Envoy, as well as representatives from Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Union. Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry quoted Yemen’s ambassador Mohammad al-Maitmi as saying Saying that “Yemen sincerely hopes that China will continue to play a role in promoting the political settlement of the Yemeni issue.” The diplomat recently met Zhai Jun, China’s special envoy on Middle East issues.

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as Trita Parsi from Quincy Institute notesChina’s restoration of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran means Beijing will be able to take some of the credit for the potential peace in Yemen. That’s because Riyadh and Tehran see the war in Yemen as their own proxy war, in which Iran supports the Houthi rebels against the Saudi-backed government. If the two countries find a mutually satisfactory way to end the conflict, it will be the result of Beijing’s mediation – even if China does not play a key role in the agreement.

However, China’s interest in mediating peace in Yemen is driven more by a desire to enhance its diplomatic credibility. Sugar coverage Shao’s meeting with al-Arda noted Yemen’s advantageous geographical location and richness in natural resources, concluding that it had great potential “waiting to be tapped”.

“It is expected,” the summary continues, “that China can play an important role in Yemen’s post-war reconstruction and economic development.”

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On a similar note, during his meeting with Saleh, Shao was apparently given Understand that China would be welcomed to “carry out economic and trade cooperation” under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Only two weeks later, Shao met with representatives of the Middle East branch of the China Harbor Engineering Company. to discuss “The Situation in Yemen and China-Yemen Relations,” Belt and Road Initiative. CHEC focuses on building infrastructure, and China hopes it will become a major player in Yemen’s possible post-war reconstruction.

So, China’s diplomatic successes appear to be paying dividends. Not only are they likely to boost Beijing’s credibility as a global peacemaker, but they also promise to create a landscape receptive to Chinese investment. With the goodwill of many prominent Yemeni actors practically assured, Chinese companies can look forward to securing lucrative contracts when the war comes to an end.