After brokering a rapprochement deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia on March 10, Wang Yi, China’s State Councilor and the man behind the Beijing Agreement pursues another ambitious goal: Mediating between Tehran and Washington.
It all started on Tuesday when Yi received Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr and his accompanying delegation in Beijing. During the meeting, Wang was quoted by Chinese media outlets as saying that “China supports countries in the Middle East in taking their destiny into their own hands.”
Later, it was reported that Yi had two rounds of talks with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Vienna on Wednesday and Thursday.
According to Chinese media, the two sides reportedly had “candid, in-depth, substantive, and constructive discussions on ways to remove obstacles and stabilize China-US relations.”
However, William Figueroa, a Postdoc fellow at the Center for Geopolitics and an analyst on Sino-Iranian affairs, casted doubts on whether the meetings were directly related or not.
“I don’t think the meetings are directly related, in the sense that China and the US have been periodically engaging in between their diplomatic disputes, especially after balloon-gate and the rise of tensions in the Taiwan Strait since I think both sides recognize that keeping tensions high isn’t in anyone’s interest,” Figueroa told Iran Daily.
Yet, he didn’t rule out the possibility of China trying its hands in resolving a bigger case.
“That being said, I do think that China would jump at the chance to play that role if given the opportunity. They played a substantial, if somewhat overlooked, role in the JCPOA negotiations last time,” the analyst continued.
“The bigger question is: Would the US welcome China to be involved? Given their negative initial reaction to China’s role in the KSA-Iran agreement and their clear disapproval of China playing a larger role in the region — whatever they might say to the contrary — I doubt they (the US) would want to hand China a win,” Figueroa concluded.
Yet, the fact remains that Yi met Sullivan only a day after meeting the Iranian delegation. Although Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council does not have any sort of direct involvement in the talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, it can play an advisory role. The JCPOA revival talks are handled by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, but negotiations are conducted by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
However coincidental the meetings may seem to appear, facts cannot be neglected.