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How Important is China’s New Role as Mideast Mediator? Depends Who You Ask.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (L) shaking hands with Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (C) during a meeting in Beijing on April 6, 2023. Iranian Foreign Ministry / AFP

The smiles and awkward handshake among the foreign ministers from China, Saudi Arabia and Iran last week in Beijing that finalized a once-improbable reconciliation between the two Persian Gulf rivals triggered another wave of analysis by scholars around the world about the significance of China’s role as the new mediator of choice.

Predictably, Chinese academics expressed near-euphoric levels of confidence that the deal is proof Beijing is now mature enough as a global actor to be a legitimate alternative to the U.S. 

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