China’s Diplomacy Faces Challenges In Red Sea Crisis


  • China’s recent diplomatic mission, led by Wang Di, aimed at addressing the Red Sea crisis and Houthi attacks, may fall short due to the nation’s cautious stance on the Israel-Gaza conflict.
  • The visit, which included Saudi Arabia and Oman, reflects China’s interest in stabilizing the region but raises questions about its willingness to get more involved.

China’s Delicate Diplomatic Moves

As Houthi rebels continue their disruptive actions in the Red Sea, China dispatched Wang Di, director general of the foreign ministry’s West Asian and North African affairs department, to engage with key nations involved in the crisis. This unusual diplomatic move underscores China’s recognition of the crisis’s potential impact on global shipping. Liu Xinlu, director of the school of Arabic studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University, notes, “Although the Yemeni Houthis have not launched attacks on Chinese ships and have given such facilities to [Chinese] personnel and enterprises, the Red Sea corridor is related to world shipping, so the transport of oil and gas resources and commodities still has a relatively large impact [on China].”

Security and Stability in Focus

During his meetings in Riyadh, Wang reiterated China’s commitment to maintaining security in the Red Sea region. His discussions emphasized collaboration with Saudi Arabia, signaling China’s preference for a political settlement regarding the Houthi militants. The diplomatic efforts also positioned China as an advocate for a Gaza ceasefire, framing the Red Sea crisis as a direct consequence of the conflict in the Palestinian territory. “Wang’s diplomatic visit is about furthering Beijing’s goal of a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli issue, which is to achieve a ceasefire [in Gaza] through diplomatic mediation and political approaches,” explains Liu Xinlu.

Analysts Express Skepticism

Despite these diplomatic maneuvers, analysts remain skeptical about the potential impact. Liu Xinlu views Wang’s visit as routine, indicating China’s reluctance to deep involvement. Yin Gang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, notes that Wang, not being considered a senior official, makes the visit appear more of a “routine” one, underscoring Beijing’s reluctance to get more involved in the crisis. “China has no ability nor motivation to be further involved,” says Yin Gang.

China’s Independent Stance Persists

While the global community calls for increased involvement, China appears committed to its independent strategy, avoiding deeper entanglements in the complex dynamics of the region. As calls for a ceasefire intensify, China’s diplomatic balancing act continues amid the evolving Red Sea crisis. “Except when China’s vital interests are compromised, such as a widespread attack on Chinese carriers, China will maintain a low-profile stance,” affirms Yin Gang.

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Source: SCMP