As Israel-Gaza war drags on, China could rise as a peacemaker

We are living in a more dangerous world today. The end of the Russia-Ukraine war continues to be impossible to predict and, on top of that, Hamas’ attack on Israel and the subsequent fighting in Gaza has resulted in more than 23,000 deaths on both sides.

The latter conflict shows few signs of letting up any time soon, raising the spectre of a regional war in the Middle East. The conflict has not only engulfed Israel and the Gaza Strip but also spilled over to neighbouring countries such as Lebanon and Yemen.

Given Israel’s expressed commitment to continuing its fight against Hamas, the international community has increased efforts to come together and find a workable solution that will stop the fighting.

On his fifth visit to the Middle East since the outbreak of violence on October 7 last year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attempted to keep the fighting in Gaza from growing into a regional conflagration. France, Germany and the United Kingdom have also sought ways to create a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza.

China condemns all violence and attacks against civilians, believing that attacking civilians is wrong regardless of which side does it. Israel’s response should be more reasonable, measured and restrained.

At the Doha Forum, which took place in Qatar last month, the Centre for China and Globalisation and the Middle East Institute co-hosted a session titled “A Multilateral Dialogue on Regional Security and Diplomacy”. It brought together influential perspectives from within and outside the region which considered broad issues such as the prospects for diplomacy and conflict resolution, non-proliferation, infrastructure development and economic development.


Where China stands on the Israel-Gaza war

Where China stands on the Israel-Gaza war

In the short run, the first goal is a true ceasefire. A high-level meeting of the United Nations should be convened in the form of seven-party talks that include the five permanent UN Security Council members along with Palestinian and Israeli representatives. It is crucial that parties to the conflict and key powers come together and negotiate.

As the rotating chair of the UN Security Council in November last year, China made the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a top priority and the Security Council passed Resolution 2712, an initial step towards promoting a ceasefire. Shortly after the resolution passed, mediation by Qatar, Egypt and other countries resulted in an agreement that allowed for the release of some people held on both sides and a ceasefire that lasted several days.

Dialogue and negotiation are the best option to save lives and the basis for resolving conflicts. In the future, UN peacekeeping troops will be a key part of facilitating a sustainable peace in Gaza as they are a neutral party with the power to rescue and escort civilians in distress.

In the long term, seeking a two-state solution continues to be the best approach. Given the status quo as well as the region’s history of conflict since 1947, the biggest question is how to facilitate and establish a workable solution. This solution should be in the form of the establishment of a Palestinian state that allows Israel and Arab countries to live in harmony.

Reciprocity is the golden rule of international relations. China should exert its political and economic influence in the Middle East. China is the Arab world’s largest trading partner; it is Israel’s second-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching a record US$24.5 billion in 2022.

China has no history of aggression, colonisation or expansion in the Middle East and has the full trust of these countries as their largest economic partner. As a conflict mediator, China is committed to peace predicated on safeguarding the United Nations system.

China’s stance has been always clear: peace comes first. China lacks the historical baggage of other countries and has always promoted peace. As the world loses faith in the ability of other major players to come up with a solution, China can play a more constructive role in facilitating a peaceful outcome. It has immense influence in the region as a trading partner, and has always acted in goodwill and never occupied another country since 1949.

China was also an important part of the recent reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. These two major Middle Eastern countries were aware their continued history of conflict could not continue into the rest of the 21st century.


Saudi Arabia signs Huawei deal during Chinese leader Xi’s visit despite US security concerns

Saudi Arabia signs Huawei deal during Chinese leader Xi’s visit despite US security concerns

Given their unpleasant histories with Europe and the US, it was clear neither of those powers could fill the role of a trustworthy peace broker, but the Saudis and Iranians still wished to seek an agreement and found an alternative in China. Beijing’s economic and political clout enabled it to bring both countries to the negotiating table, eventually reaching a viable agreement.

It is also clear that China can and should play a more active role in world affairs that encourages economic globalisation rather than fragmentation and conflict.

China should continue to embrace globalisation and engage with the world. No one wins in war, which is why Beijing promotes goodwill, peace and prosperity.

Wang Huiyao is the founder of the Centre for China and Globalisation, a Beijing-based non-governmental think tank


Deixe um comentário

O seu endereço de e-mail não será publicado.