Developing good relations
Fundamentally, it is Saudi Arabia and Iran that wanted to restore diplomatic ties, and this was the motivating factor for the breakthrough. Yet a further influence was China's belief system and its approach to diplomacy.
President Xi Jinping has been working hard to develop good neighbourly relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as shown in the final joint communique.
It suggests that China's diplomatic emphasis on harmony, together with its belief that international cooperation is a road to peace, can be effective at helping states establish regional security.
It also shows that the regional security architecture of the Middle East is being transformed, driven by states' need to control their own destinies. The changing dynamics are also characterised by waning Western influence.
Regional security cooperation
Over the decades, countries in the Middle East have grown used to seeing regional security cooperation efforts try and fail.
From the 1955 Baghdad Pact, to the post-Gulf War initiative, to other US or Russia-led packages, a vortex of mistrust, threat perception gaps, and a lack of common goals and interests, has meant that obstacles inevitably remained.
Today's security landscape, on the other hand, further encourages capable regional states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran to rethink and rebuild a security framework that distributes security responsibility to nearby states, allowing them to manage security themselves, without risking their sovereignty.
How was it China that finally managed to broker such a breakthrough diplomatic deal [between Riyadh and Tehran] when so many other powers tried to do so?
It is because China, as an objective, impartial, and responsible power, institutionalises its relations with Arab countries. This gives it an advantageous position in coordinating regional security efforts. Regional dynamics are being restructured. Security perceptions are being rebuilt.
Changing security perspectives
The more independent regional states, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, are changing their perspective, from knowing they need security to knowing they need joint security.