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Can China De-escalate Tensions in Red Sea?



In the midst of escalating tensions in the Red Sea, China, as the world's largest exporter, has voiced deep concern about the situation that has disrupted global trade by diverting shipping away from the Suez Canal. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin highlighted China's active efforts to de-escalate the crisis during a daily briefing.

 

Wang emphasized that China is in "close communication with all parties concerned" and is actively working to make positive contributions to ease the situation. The conflict involves Houthi fighters, who have launched at least 34 attacks on shipping through the waterways leading to Egypt's Suez Canal since November.

 

China, recognizing the Red Sea's importance as a crucial international trade route for goods and energy, called for an immediate halt to the harassment and attacks on civilian ships. Wang urged all relevant parties to refrain from escalating tensions further and jointly ensure the safety and security of the Red Sea route.

 

Linking the Red Sea tensions to the Gaza conflict, Wang emphasized the need to end the fighting in Gaza promptly to prevent further escalation in the region. China expressed its willingness to collaborate with all parties to cool down the situation and maintain security and stability in the Red Sea.

 

China's significant economic stake in global trade is evident, with the nation exporting over $3.5 trillion in goods in 2022, surpassing the United States as the world's leading exporter. The ripple effects of the Red Sea tensions have compelled major container shipping companies and oil giant BP to reroute vessels around Africa, impacting global trade dynamics.

 

While the United States and other nations have created a new force to protect ships in response to the crisis, China's commitment to de-escalation raises questions about its potential to play a constructive role in resolving the conflict. China's close ties with Iran, driven by investments and oil imports, may provide a unique position for diplomatic intervention.

 

However, China's reluctance to align with a specific side in the Middle East diminishes its credibility as a peace broker. Despite maintaining ties with Iran and hosting talks leading to the restoration of Tehran's diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, China's neutral stance has drawn skepticism.

 

As tensions persist and global trade continues to be affected, the world watches closely to see whether China's diplomatic efforts can indeed contribute to de-escalating the crisis in the Red Sea.

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