Mao Ning, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Monday that the current situation in Gaza is “quite dire” and said Beijing supports “all efforts aimed at de-escalating the conflict and restoring peace” in the coastal city.
Israeli forces have targeted Gaza since the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel that left 1,200 dead and nearly 300 people kidnapped. Israel has killed more than 11,000 people in Gaza and 1.6 million have been displaced.
Besides the bombing campaign, Israel has essentially sealed off Gaza from receiving food, water, and fuel, which has led to a humanitarian crisis on top of a humanitarian crisis. Al Shifa, the main hospital in Gaza City, has gone three days without any power and several newborns have died.
China has not been as vocal about the Israel War as Russia and it took Chinese President Xi Jinping two weeks to make his first public remarks about the conflict.
Wang Di, Beijing’s head of West Asian and North African affairs, told reporters that there is an “urgent need for a ceasefire” during a recent visit to Iran.
Neysun Mahboubi, director of the Penn Project on the Future of U.S.-China Relations at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Wall Street Journal that while the Biden administration courts global ire in its support of Israel, there “is an opportunity for China to shape an image of being a responsible world power, and more so than its competitors, including the United States.”
Mao, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, attended the Saudi-African Summit and the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit in Riyadh and said the outcome of the conferences were “a clear message of promoting a ceasefire, protecting civilians, increasing humanitarian assistance, and implementing the ‘two-state solution,’ and we welcome these efforts.”
TRENDPOST: Any talk of a ceasefire in Gaza is banned in the U.S. and Mao said Washington is trying to perform a challenging balancing act. While not wanting to be criticized by the global community—in particular the Global South—the Biden administration has been careful not to offend Israel and publicly criticize any element of its war effort. (See “NEW HOUSE SPEAKER IDENTIFIES NEW ‘AXIS OF EVIL’: CHINA, IRAN, AND RUSSIA” 31 Oct 2023 and “CHINA, RUSSIA RISING WHILE U.S. IS DECLINING: XI, PUTIN DESCRIBE ‘FAIRER, MULTIPOLAR’ WORLD” 24 Oct 2023.)
“However, this cannot be done, because as long as Israel continues its operation, the civilian death toll will definitely rise,” Mao told The Global Times.
China’s Xi Jinping will be in the U.S. for a four-day trip beginning today and will meet with his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, in San Francisco.
“We have been in close contact with relevant parties and committed to de-escalation and protection of civilians. We hope that the US will follow an objective and just stance and play a constructive role in halting the conflict,” Mao said.
The U.S. has been angered that China did not publicly condemn Russia for invading Ukraine. And while Washington has fully backed Israel’s relentless attack on innocent Palestinians, China and Russia have both refused to condemn the Hamas attack. The two global powers also urged Israel to show restraint.