Caught off guard in its ambitions to become a mediator in the Middle East conflict, China toughens its tone against Israel
After asserting, on Saturday October 14 by telephone, to American Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Beijing “opposes any action against civilians and condemns any practice violating international law”, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi seems to have abandoned any pretense of displaying a position of balance regarding the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
For the head of Chinese diplomacy, it is clear that “the root of the problem lies in the fact that justice has never been rendered to the Palestinian people”, as he recalled the same day during another telephone call , this time with an advisor to Brazilian President Lula Da Silva.
Also on Saturday, the very active head of Beijing diplomacy drove the point home by meeting in Beijing with his counterpart from European diplomacy, Joseph Borrel: “The Israelis have obtained guarantees for their survival, but who is going to take care of the survival of Palestinians,” he asked, adding sarcastically: “The Jewish people are no longer without a home, but when will the Palestinian nation find its own?…”
On Sunday, a report from another telephone conversation with the decidedly indefatigable Wang Yi confirmed the hardening of the position of China, a country which has moved significantly closer to Israel in recent years and has invested economically in the Jewish state. : Israel’s action has gone “beyond the realm of self-defense” and its leaders must “stop collectively punishing the population of Gaza”, he asserted to his Saudi counterpart Faisal Bin Farhan.
Beijing’s support for the Palestinians is certainly not surprising when we remember that Maoist China stood firmly behind the supporters of Yasser Arafat during the Cold War. But while the Middle Kingdom continues to advance its economic and political pawns in the vast world, Beijing has both moved closer to Israel while giving signs of a desire to provide an alternative to preeminence of the United States in the region. As demonstrated by the success of recent Chinese mediation which allowed Iran and Saudi Arabia to bury the hatchet.
But the bloody attack by Hamas and the brutality of the Israeli response, of which we have not yet seen the end, will have shattered China’s ambitions. Whose diplomatic relations in the region were in any case not taken excessively seriously by the various actors, starting with the Israelis.
This article is originally published on mondafrique.com