palacio143_ATTA KENAREAFP via Getty Images_iransaudiarabiachina Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Xi of Arabia

After decades of heeding Deng Xiaoping’s advice to “hide its strength, bide its time, never take the lead,” China has apparently decided that its moment to step into the global spotlight has arrived. The US must act urgently to restore its influence, particularly in the Middle East.

MADRID – Perhaps no image better captures the shifting dynamics in the Middle East than that of Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s security council, and Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state, shaking hands in Beijing, with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, smiling between them. The officials were celebrating a China-mediated deal restoring diplomatic ties between the two rivals. In the process, China solidified its reputation as a global powerbroker and underscored the extent to which America’s regional role has been diminished.