Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

China’s good offices

By Howard W. French

16 Mar 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

China recently brokered a surprising agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to reestablish ties. The U.S. stands to learn from China's “see-no-evil” approach to diplomacy, argues an FP columnist.

When the news emerged last week of a resumption of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, most immediate Western commentary focused nervously on how this reflected China’s growing global ambitions.

Because China had brokered the agreement, U.S. and European commentators were quick to see any putative advance for Beijing as a loss for Washington. For well over a decade already, this has been a familiar refrain about China’s relations with other parts of the world, particularly Africa. There, the common logic suggested that with Beijing solidifying its trade, investment, and political relationships on that continent, it must be because Washington’s relevance was fading.

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