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Chinese president Xi Jinping’s recent meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas highlights the country’s growing interest in Middle East peace.

On July 18th, China’s Xi Jinping visited with Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and discussed ongoing relations between the two states and recent developments in the region. Among what was discussed, Xi pledged his efforts in promoting peace in the Middle East and reiterated the country’s support of an independent Palestinian state and the promotion of stability in the region.

The meeting even touched on the issue of Muslim Chinese Uighurs entering the region in hopes of joining militant groups, with China trying to lessen its flow of Jihadists entering countries like Iraq and Syria.

The recent meeting helps highlight China’s healthy relationship with the de jure sovereign state and its growing interest in Middle East peace. Xi himself while speaking to reporters said that “China hopes Palestine and Israel can achieve peace as soon as possible and live and work in peace. China will make unremitting efforts for this”. These words while seemingly baseless have been bolstered by

These words while seemingly baseless have been bolstered by Xi’s recent announcement of an Israeli-Palestinian peace symposium hosted by China as well as four agreements signed between the two parties with goals of improving the economic, technological, and cultural building.

History of Sino-Palestinian relations

The People’s Republic of China from its outset, although recognizing Israel as a sovereign state, supported the Arab Palestinian cause. This support came out of its advocacy of anti-colonial struggles and Maoist rhetoric. In fact, the PLO affiliated Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine is an ideologically Maoist organization, with its emphasis on revolution as a means of creating a utopian Palestinian state coinciding with Maoist ideology. China’s support for the Palestinian cause and its people’s self-determination is exemplified by its diplomatic visits to the region,

China’s support for the Palestinian cause and its people’s self-determination is exemplified by its diplomatic visits to the region, wherein the country refers to Palestine as a state rather than merely a territory contrary to countries such as the United States.  

This recent meeting between Xi and Abbas is an example of the respect China grants the Palestinian authority, as well as its support of their nationalistic struggle. An earlier meeting in 2008 between Abbas and then Chinese president Hu Jintao played out similarly to this recent visit, with Hu pronouncing that “China has always been a staunch supporter of the rightful cause of the Palestinians and the Mideast peace process”. And indeed China has been just that.

In 1988, China was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine and the Palestine Liberation Organization and even opened an embassy in 1974 for the organization.  China has also been a critic of Israel’s settlement practices as well as the 2008 Gaza invasion in which China’s deputy permanent representative at the United Nations called out the state by saying that China was “shocked and indignant at Israel’s attacks on UN schools, rescue vehicles, and a UN compound”.

Chinese and Palestinian relations, in short, can be summed up by positive interactions between the states, and the mutual goals and efforts between the two that grant them such friendly correspondences. It’s no secret that the two are likely allies, as much of their political positions coincide with each other as a product of historical circumstance.

Future of Sino-Palestinian relations

The July 18th meeting between China and Palestine’s political leaders highlights the likely future of friendly relations between the two countries. China’s declaration of support towards the Palestinian cause makes them a friend to the Palestinian public, who seems grateful for the country’s aid. Indeed, Abbas presented a Palestinian medal of honor to Xi at the meeting, as well as saying that “China remains the best friend of our people and the best supporter of our national cause”.  

Moreover, Xi’s announcement of an Israeli-Palestinian peace symposium only serves to further relations between the two. If China continues to support Palestinian interests in the capacity it has in the recent past, it is likely that the symposium will hold Palestinian interests in high regard. That is the secret of their friendly relationship. As long as China remains a voice to Palestinian interests and supportive of their self-declared struggle to independence, their diplomatic relationship will flourish. Palestinian and Chinese relations are set to increase in the near future, and amidst new Middle East peace efforts, their relationship will prove to be an important one. One important enough to change circumstances in the Palestinian- Israeli conflict.

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Mark Chamoun interests belong mostly in the political and philosophical spheres. He is focusing on issues pertaining to minority groups in the Middle East and the current politics and happenings in the...

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