• July 14, 2024, 1:09 am
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China’s Xi calls for Middle East peace conference

News Desk
News Desk
Update: Thursday, May 30, 2024

Chinese President Xi Jinping called on Thursday for a peace conference on the war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas as he addressed Arab leaders and diplomats at a forum in Beijing.

China is this week hosting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and several other Arab leaders for a forum at which discussions on the war in Gaza were expected.

Addressing the delegations on Thursday morning, Xi said China supported a “broad-based” peace conference to resolve the conflict.

“The Middle East is a land bestowed with broad prospects for development, but the war is still raging on it,” Xi said.

“War should not continue indefinitely. Justice should not be absent forever,” he added.

Xi also said China “supports Palestine’s full membership in the UN, and supports a more broad-based, authoritative and effective international peace conference”.

China, which has good relations with Israel, has advocated for decades for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Meeting Egypt’s Sisi on Wednesday, Xi said he was “deeply pained” by the “extremely severe” situation in Gaza, where the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry says 36,171 people, mostly civilians, have been killed.

“The top priority task now is an immediate ceasefire, in order to avoid spillover of conflict, impact on regional peace and stability, and… to prevent a more serious humanitarian crisis,” Xi said.

He also said China was ready to work with Egypt, which neighbours Gaza and Israel, to “push for an early, comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian issue”.

– ‘Golden opportunity’ –

In recent years, China has sought to build closer ties with Arab states. Last year, it brokered a detente between Saudi Arabia and its long-time foe Iran.

China also hosted rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah last month for “in-depth and candid talks on promoting intra-Palestinian reconciliation”.
Analysts say China is seeking to leverage the war in Gaza to boost its standing in the region, framing its efforts to end that conflict against perceived US inaction.

“Beijing sees the ongoing conflict as a golden opportunity to criticise the West’s double standards on the international scene and call for an alternative global order,” Camille Lons, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told AFP.

“When speaking about the war in Gaza, it speaks… to a wider audience, and frames the conflict around the opposition between the West and the Global South,” she added.

On Thursday, Xi hailed his “deep sense of affinity” with the Arab world.
United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was among a host of regional leaders and diplomats attending this week’s forum.

Xi said that China would seek to deepen cooperation with the region on energy.

“China will further enhance strategic cooperation with the Arab side on oil and gas, and integrate supply security with market security,” he said.

“China is ready to work with the Arab side on new energy technology R&D and equipment production,” he added.

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