Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Part of China (CPC) Central Committee and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell jointly met the press after co-chairing the China-EU High-Level Strategic Dialogue.
When asked about the current Palestinian-Israeli situation, FM Wang Yi pointed out that Palestine is now in a critical situation. The ongoing conflict has caused heavy civilian casualties. The humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating. China condemns all acts that harm civilians and opposes any violation of international law.
FM Wang Yi highlighted four priorities that China sees pressing given the severity of the current situation. The first is to stop the fighting as soon as possible, prevent it from spreading endlessly and avoid further deterioration of the situation. Second, it is imperative to observe the international humanitarian law, make every effort to ensure the safety of civilians, open up a humanitarian rescue and assistance passage as quickly as possible, and prevent a severe humanitarian disaster. Third, relevant countries should stay calm and exercise restraint, take an objective and just position, work for de-escalation of the conflict, and avoid causing an even bigger blow to regional and international security. Fourth, the UN should play its due role in resolving the question of Palestine. The UN Security Council needs to shoulder important responsibilities for this, build international consensus as quickly as possible and take real measures to that end.
FM Wang Yi noted that China is communicating with the relevant parties. China will actively participate in emergency consultations at the UN Security Council and support the call by Secretary General Antonio Guterres for protecting civilians. China will provide emergency humanitarian assistance to Gaza Strip and the Palestinian National Authority through the UN. China has a principle stance – Peace and always opposes the wars, conflicts, and confrontation. It values human lives and always opposes the bloodshed. It practices diplomacy and peaceful resolution of all disputes and encourage all other nations to practice the same.
FM Wang Yi pointed out that the question of Palestine is at the heart of the Middle East issue and a wound that keeps being torn open in today’s world. The root cause of this question lies in the long delay in realizing the dream of an independent State of Palestine and the failure to redress the historical injustice suffered by the Palestinian people. Israel has the right to statehood, so does Palestine. The Israelis have obtained the safeguards for survival, but who will care about the survival of the Palestinians? The Jewish nation is no longer homeless in the world, but when will the Palestinian nation return to its home? There is no shortage of injustices in the world, but the injustice to Palestine has dragged on for over half a century. The sufferings that plagued generations must not continue. The answer to the question is the two-state solution and an independent State of Palestine. This is how Palestine and Israel could coexist in peace and how the Arabs and Jews could live in harmony. Only when the two-state solution is fully implemented can the Middle East truly enjoy peace and Israel enjoy lasting security. The right way to advance the two-state solution is to resume peace talks as soon as possible. All mechanisms for peace must play a positive role. The Special Envoy of the Chinese Government on the Middle East Issue will soon visit relevant countries in the region and make active efforts to facilitate a cessation of violence and de-escalate the situation.
In the meantime, China calls for a more authoritative, influential and broad-based international peace conference to be held under the auspices of the UN to build international consensus for peace and work for a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine at an early date.
FM Wang Yi stressed that on the question of Palestine, China will continue to stand on the side of peace, on the side of justice, on the side of international law, on the side of shared aspirations of the majority of countries in the world, and on the side of human conscience.
China and Palestine established diplomatic relations in 1988. In recent years, China has sought to deepen bilateral trade and investment ties, pursuing a free trade agreement and integration with the Belt and Road Initiative. China’s growing influence in the Middle East positions it as a potential mediator in peace efforts, an ever more important role following the recent escalation of the conflict with Israel. We look at current China-Palestine relations, including the development of trade, investment, and diplomatic ties. See also our article on China-Israel relations.
China-Palestine diplomatic relations
China was one of the first countries in the world to recognize Palestine as a state in 1988, at which time the two parties officially established diplomatic relations. That same year, the office of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) that had previously been established in Beijing was converted to the Embassy of the State of Palestine. China established an Office of China to the Palestinian National Authority (PA) in Gaza in 1995, which was moved to Ramallah in 2004 and has remained there since. The two diplomatic missions remain active today, with China’s Ambassador to Palestine concurrently holding the position of Ambassador to Tunisia.
China has maintained friendly relations with Palestine in the decades since, engaging in regular official visits and dialogue. Over the past two decades, China has welcomed the Palestinian President and leader of the PA Mahmoud Abbas five times, most recently in June 2023. During this visit, Abbas’ and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the establishment of a strategic partnership.
China-Israel Bilateral Trade and Investment Outlook
In December 2022, China and Palestine signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) “on Matters of Common Interest under the Joint Construction of the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative” (BRI), with the aim of improving “policy communication, facility connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people connections”.
China has been viewed as a potential peacemaker in the region, with the ability to leverage its positive friendly influence in the Middle East to push for negotiations. During the June meeting with Abbas, Xi Jinping stated that “China stands ready to play a positive role in helping Palestine achieve internal reconciliation and promoting peace talks.”
The country has continued to advocate for a two-state solution to the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, calling for the establishment of an independent state of Palestine based on the borders prior to 1967 as demarcated in the Armistice Agreements, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Palestine’s statehood is the first principle in China’s three-point proposal to solve the conflict. The other two are increasing development assistance and international aid to Palestine and the convening of an authoritative and influential international peace conference to resume peace talks.
China has adopted a neutral position on the recent flare-up of the Israel-Hamas conflict in southern Israel and Gaza that began on October 7. On October 8, a Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson in a statement called on “relevant parties to remain calm, exercise restraint and immediately end the hostilities to protect civilians and avoid further deterioration of the situation”, and reiterated China’s support for a two-state solution.
China has also held diplomatic relations with Israel since 1992, and in recent years has sought to develop bilateral trade and investment relations with the country. It maintains close cooperation with Israel, especially in the areas of hi-tech, Agriculture, and economy.
It makes China a strong mediator, while keeping contact with both parties, and considered a positive aspect. Whereas, the US has been siding with Israel only and become a party to the conflict , and lost the role of mediator.
China-Palestine Free Trade Agreement negotiations
Negotiations on a China-Palestine Free Trade Agreement (FTA) began in 2018 following the completion of a feasibility study. The first round of negotiations was completed in early 2019, and discussed “principles of negotiation, the treaty scope, the way to negotiate and key concerns”.
China’s Tax, Investment, and Trade Agreements with Countries in the Middle East
Negotiations appear to have been put on hold in the intervening years until the meeting between Xi and Abbas in June 2023, during which Xi called for “accelerating negotiations” on the China-Palestine FTA. At a regular press conference held the day after the meeting, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) stated that “we are willing to expedite the negotiation process of the China-Palestine FTA and promote the upgrading of bilateral trade and investment cooperation.”
China has been actively deepening its trade and investment ties with countries in the Middle East in recent years. It is currently also seeking to advance negotiations on a possible FTA with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises the countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
China-Palestine bilateral investment
Of the most recent data available, as of the end of 2017, China’s accumulated direct investment in Palestine amounted to approximately US$490,000. In 2018, while there were no new direct investments from China in Palestine, the country signed new contract agreements worth US$8.87 million, marking a substantial increase of 194.7 percent compared to the previous year. These contracts resulted in a total revenue of US$4.89 million, showing a year-on-year growth of 65.8 percent.
Belt and Road Initiative
One of the cornerstones of the growing China-Palestine partnership is the implementation of investment projects under the BRI—the comprehensive infrastructure and economic development initiative launched by China, aimed at enhancing connectivity, trade, and economic cooperation with countries across Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Palestine’s participation in this initiative holds significant promise for economic growth and development.
In December 2022, a milestone was reached when the Chinese government and the Palestinian government signed a MoU on Belt and Road Initiative Cooperation. This MoU marks a pivotal moment in their collaboration, signifying the alignment of their goals and interests within the framework of the BRI.
The Belt and Road Initiative offers opportunities for infrastructure development and investment. By leveraging the BRI, China and Palestine are poised to enhance their connectivity, trade, and economic integration. Key areas of cooperation and initiatives include:
Transport infrastructure development: Within the BRI framework, China and Palestine are working on expanding and modernizing transportation networks. This may include the construction of the Gaza Seaport and its associated infrastructure, which will enhance connectivity not only within Palestine but also with neighbouring countries like Jordan and Egypt.
Renewable energy projects: China is actively collaborating with Palestine to develop renewable energy sources. For instance, they have jointly established a solar power plant in the West Bank, which not only promotes clean energy but also contributes to a stable power supply, supporting economic growth and reducing the region’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Industrial zones and economic hubs: The BRI promotes the establishment of industrial zones and economic development areas in Palestine. A notable example is the Sino-Palestine Industrial Park near Bethlehem, which has attracted Chinese and international investments. This park serves as a manufacturing hub for various industries, creating job opportunities and promoting trade.
Digital connectivity and e-commerce: Under the BRI MoU, Palestine has a big opportunity to upgrade its digital infrastructure. This includes the development of high-speed internet networks and e-commerce platforms and the overall facilitation of online trade for the growth of Palestine’s digital economy.
Cultural and educational exchanges: The BRI fosters cultural and educational exchanges between China and Palestine. Through partnerships with Palestinian universities and cultural institutions, Chinese universities are offering scholarships to Palestinian students. Additionally, academic collaborations in fields like archaeology and history are strengthening cultural understanding and preserving historical heritage. In 2020, the An-Najah National University established the China – Palestine and Middle East Center for Industrial Parks Planning Technology, with the objectives of promoting sustainable planning of industrial parks in Palestine and the Middle East, facilitating expertise exchange and joint programs, and reinforcing cooperation in terms of joint research and visit exchanges between Palestine, the Middle East, and China in various fields.
For Palestine, participating in the BRI represents an opportunity to attract foreign direct investment, stimulate economic growth, and enhance regional integration. The BRI MoU lays the foundation for a collaborative approach to BRI projects, promising to bring substantial benefits to both countries.
China’s relations with Palestine can be understood within the broader context of China’s diplomatic engagements in the Middle East. China’s diplomatic ambitions in the region have become increasingly pronounced, as evidenced by its role in brokering diplomatic agreements and deepening its ties with various Middle Eastern countries.
In the wake of its successful mediation in restoring ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, China has sought to establish itself as a diplomatic heavyweight in the Middle East. This approach aligns with the government’s vision of positioning China as a global leader that actively contributes to resolving international conflicts.
Till date around 4500 Palestinian has been killed, and the causalities may rise sharply as the Israel has warned a massive ground and air attack on the besieged Gaza since 7 October. If right measures are not take promptly, there seems a scaring scenario ahead. The conflict may spread wider and regional forces may be involved and may engulf the entire region into a war.
Although there are wide spread agitations and rallies the Europe and even within America there is strong opposition to administrations irrational support to Israel. But the US administration is adding fuel to fire by providing weapons, ammunition and political & moral support to the State of Israel. President Biden’s trip to Israel is taken a negative message and anti-America sentiments Rosen to peak around the globe.
It is time for all peace loving nations and individuals to raise their voice for peace and a permanent solution to the issue based on the UN resolution. Israel must be pressurised to settle the issue logically, diplomatically and politically, the use of force must be opposed. In the last seven decades, the excessive use of force by Israel has not been productive, it must think rationally and come to the table for a sustainable resolution. Israel must follow the policy of live and let others to live. Middle east need Peace! World needs Peace! Humankind needs Peace!