China as a conflict mediator: Maintaining stability along the Belt and Road | Mercator Institute for China Studies
y Helena Legarda and Marie L. Hoffmann
Recent years have seen significant changes in China’s international mediation activities. In countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Syria and Israel, among others, diplomats from China increasingly engage in preventing, managing or resolving conflict. In 2017 Beijing was mediating in nine conflicts, a visible increase compared to only three in 2012, the year when Xi Jinping took power as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The increase in Chinese mediation activities began in 2013, the year that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was launched. Before that, Beijing was relatively reluctant to engage in conflict resolution abroad. As the MERICS mapping shows, the year 2008 is an outlier in that regard. China’s activities at the time – such as its efforts to mediate between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, or between Sudan and South Sudan – were probably part of Beijing’s charm offensive and its drive to gain more international visibility in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.