China’s Middle East Ambitions Tested by Israel-Hamas War
October 16, 2023 | by b1og.net
The Israel-Hamas war has put China’s ambitions in the Middle East to the test, but it may also present opportunities for Beijing in the long run. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s efforts earlier this year to foster closer ties with both Palestine and Israel seemed promising, with an official state visit from the Israeli prime minister on the horizon. However, the outbreak of conflict between Israel and Hamas has thrown those plans into uncertainty. While China’s stated neutrality in the war has upset Israel, experts believe that China can still leverage its influence in the region by forging closer ties with Arab countries and positioning itself as a mediator. This approach, however, risks alienating Israel and may be seen as exploiting the conflict for geopolitical benefits. Despite these challenges, China’s continued engagement in the Middle East during this conflict presents an opportunity for the country to establish itself as a great power and protect its economic interests in the region.
China’s Middle East Ambitions Tested by Israel-Hamas War
China’s Growing Role in the Middle East
China has been steadily increasing its presence and influence in the Middle East in recent years. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visits to Palestine and Israel in June 2023 signaled China’s aim for a bigger role in the region. These visits were seen as an opportunity for China to strengthen its economic ties and political alliances in the Middle East.
China’s Neutrality on the Israel-Hamas War
China has maintained a stated neutrality position on the Israel-Hamas war. This stance has upset Israel, as they see China’s neutrality as a failure to fully support their position. However, this neutrality allows China to maintain its image as a neutral and responsible global player in the eyes of the international community.
China’s Attempts at Mediation
Despite its stated neutrality, China has been attempting to play a role in mediating the Israel-Hamas conflict. Chinese envoy Zhai Jun has made calls for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian support for the Palestinian people. China has expressed its willingness to work with the international community to promote peace and encourage talks. These efforts demonstrate China’s desire to be seen as a mediator in global conflicts.
China’s Economic Interests in the Region
China has significant economic interests in the Middle East, particularly in terms of its need for oil. The region is a major supplier of oil to China, and any instability in the Middle East can disrupt China’s energy security. Additionally, China has invested in economic projects in the Middle East and is actively involved in its Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to connect markets through infrastructure projects. These economic interests give China a stake in the stability of the region.
China’s Potential Arms Sales to Arab Countries
The Israel-Hamas conflict has created an opportunity for China to expand its arms sales to Arab countries that may be dissatisfied with the United States’ support for Israel. China’s desire to protect its economic interests in the region further motivates it to strengthen its arms sales. However, this potential for increased arms sales poses the risk of further alienating Israel.
China’s Risk of Alienating Israel
China’s neutrality and its exploitation of the conflict for geopolitical benefits have raised concerns in Israel. Israel perceives China’s position as pro-Palestine neutrality, rather than true neutrality. China’s refusal to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization and its strong criticism of Israel in state media have further strained the relationship between China and Israel. China’s actions in the conflict may lead to increased tensions and potential alienation from Israel.
China’s Foreign Policy under Xi Jinping
China’s foreign policy under President Xi Jinping has been characterized by a proactive and assertive stance. China has sought to strengthen ties in the Middle East, particularly through its Belt and Road Initiative and efforts to broker peace deals between regional powers. China sees itself as a bridge and mediator in global conflicts, positioning itself as an alternative to the United States on the international stage.
China’s Brokering Role in Global Conflicts
China’s involvement in the Middle East conflict reflects its broader aspirations to play a brokering role in global conflicts. China believes it is better positioned than the United States to resolve conflicts between regional powers. By mediating in conflicts such as those between Saudi Arabia and Iran or Russia and Ukraine, China aims to establish itself as a great power in conflict resolution.
China’s Stance on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
China has long advocated for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It views the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people as crucial to resolving the conflict. However, China’s continued support for a two-state solution and refusal to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization have raised doubts about its effectiveness in the peace process. Critics argue that China’s stance is disconnected from the reality of the conflict.
China’s Propaganda and Antisemitism in the Conflict
Chinese state media’s criticism of Israel during the conflict has been seen as part of the Chinese government’s propaganda narrative. China has propagated a narrative that places the blame on Israel, aligning with its objective of undermining the United States in the international community. This narrative has resulted in a surge of antisemitic sentiment on the Chinese internet, highlighting the potential consequences of China’s propaganda in the conflict. As a responsible global player, China must address and condemn any instances of antisemitism that arise from the conflict.
In conclusion, the Israel-Hamas war has tested China’s emerging role in the Middle East. China’s neutrality, attempts at mediation, economic interests, potential arms sales, and risk of alienating Israel all highlight the challenges and opportunities China faces in navigating the complex dynamics of the region. China’s foreign policy under President Xi Jinping aims to position China as a mediator in global conflicts and strengthen its influence in the Middle East. However, China’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, propaganda, and antisemitism must be addressed to ensure its image as a responsible global player.