Israel’s genocide in Gaza gives Russia and China an opportunity to present themselves to much of the world as countries that stand for peace and human rights—while the U.S. finds itself—once again—marred in a conflict thousands of miles away.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have presented the Israel war as another example of the U.S. striving to maintain its global hegemony. Neither president spoke out against the Hamas attack on 7 October that killed 1,200 Israelis and nearly 300 kidnappings.
Putin said in a speech last week that he could barely contain himself when he watches the atrocities unfold in Gaza, and said he clenches his fists and his “eyes tear up.” He blamed the U.S. as the “root of evil.”
Beijing has called for an immediate ceasefire and accused the U.S. of warmongering in the Middle East.
Zhang Jun, China’s UN envoy, said his country will work to “stand on the side of International fairness and justice, on the side of international law, side the legitimate aspirations of the Arab and the Islamic world,” according to the paper. (See “CHINA, RUSSIA RISING WHILE U.S. IS DECLINING: XI, PUTIN DESCRIBE ‘FAIRER, MULTIPOLAR’ WORLD” 24 Oct 2023, and “PUTIN SAYS HAMAS ATTACKS SHOWCASE FAILED U.S. POLICY IN REGION” 17 Oct 2023.)
While the Russian leader stated that Israel has the right to defend itself, he warned Jerusalem not to punish average Gazans too extensively. Putin said an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza would result in an “absolutely unacceptable” number of dead civilians.
He also criticized the blockade around Gaza and compared it to that of Stalingrad during WWII.
Putin said in a televised address on 30 October that there’s no justification for “the terrible events taking place in Gaza now, where hundreds of thousands of innocent people are being killed indiscriminately, without having anywhere to flee or hide from the bombing,” according to CNBC.
“When you see blood-stained children, dead children, the suffering of women and old people, when you see medics killed, of course, it makes you clench your fists as tears well in your eyes. There is no other way to put it,” he said.
Tuvia Gering, a China expert at the Institute for National Security Studies of Tel Aviv University, told the WSJ that it is clear that Israel needs a solid alliance with Washington because there is “no alternative.”
“China is not neutral,” Gering said. “It’s against Israel and is providing wind to the sails of those who wish to annihilate us. It’s been indifferent to our suffering and it is exploiting it for its own geopolitical gains.”
TRENDPOST: The U.S. is trying to fend off challenges from China and Russia on the world’s stage, and Beijing is intent on becoming the unofficial leader of the Global South.
“China sees a high priority in the international landscape as preserving its reputation as the leader of the developing world. I think China wants to position itself as a champion of any country or people oppressed by the broader coalition of US allies and partners, as well as a fair broker for dispute settlement and resolution,” Rorry Daniels, the managing director of the Asia Society Policy Institute, told The Guardian.
China has called for a cease-fire in Gaza months after presenting a cease-fire formula for the Ukraine War, which was laughed off by the Biden administration for not being sufficiently anti-Russian.
The U.S. has raised concerns about Russia and China’s budding relationship with Iran in the Middle East region. President Joe Biden is expected to meet with Xi in the San Francisco Bay area on Wednesday and will underscore the U.S.’s “desire for China to make clear in its burgeoning relationship with Iran that it is essential that Iran not seek to escalate or spread violence in the Middle East,” a senior U.S. official told Politico.