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Foreign ministers in China seek ways to end Gaza war

China welcomes Arab, Indonesia foreign ministers for talks on ending Gaza war
3 min read
20 November, 2023
China on Monday hosted foreign ministers from four Arab countries and Indonesia to discuss ways on ending Israel's war on Gaza, now in its 45th day.
The Saudi foreign minister (L) is greeted by his Chinese counterpart in Beijing [Getty]

China’s top diplomat welcomed four Arab foreign ministers and the Indonesian one to Beijing on Monday, saying his country would work with "our brothers and sisters" in the Arab and Islamic world to try to end the war in Gaza as soon as possible.

The ministers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Indonesia chose to start a tour of world capitals in Beijing, a testament to both China's growing geopolitical influence and its longstanding support for the Palestinians.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the foreign diplomats that their decision to start in Beijing shows their high level of trust in his nation.

"China is a good friend and brother of Arab and Islamic countries," Wang said in opening remarks at a state guest house before their talks began. "We have always firmly safeguarded the legitimate rights and interests of Arab (and) Islamic countries and have always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people."

China has long backed the Palestinians and been quick to denounce Israel over its settlements in the occupied territories. It has not criticised the Hamas attack on 7 October — which killed about 1,200 people — while the United States and others have called it an act of terrorism.

However, China does have growing economic ties with Israel.

Israel's unprecedented bombardment of the Gaza Strip has so far killed around 13,000 people, the majority of them civilians. Another 2,700 have been reported missing, believed buried in rubble.

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, called for an immediate ceasefire and the entry of humanitarian aid and relief to the Gaza Strip.

"There are still dangerous developments ahead of us and an urgent humanitarian crisis that requires an international mobilization to deal with and counter it," he said.

He added they appreciated the resolution issued by the United Nations Security Council , calling for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses in Gaza, "but we still need more efforts and cooperation."

China — the world’s second-largest economy after the U.S. — has become increasingly outspoken on international affairs and even gotten directly involved in some recently, albeit cautiously.

In March, Beijing helped broker an agreement that saw Saudi Arabia and Iran reestablish ties after seven years of tension in a role previously reserved for longtime global heavyweights like the U.S. and Russia.

The five foreign ministers will visit a number of capitals in an effort to pursue a ceasefire, get aid into Gaza and end the war, Prince Faisal said last weekend. The secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Hussein Brahim Taha, is also accompanying them to Beijing.

"This isn’t Israel’s first war against the Palestinian people," said Riyad Al-Maliki, the Palestinian Authority foreign minister. "However, Israel wants this to be its last war, where it takes full control of the Palestinian people’s presence on what’s left of the historical land of Palestine."

Israel’s ambassador to China, Irit Ben-Abba, said Monday, that her country is allowing sufficient humanitarian aid into Gaza in collaboration with international organisations and that "putting pressure on Israel in this regard is politically motivated and is not conducive to the humanitarian assistance which is needed."

She also said that they hoped for "no one-sided"resolution by the Security Council and that they expected a clear statement calling for the "unconditional release of the 240 hostages" who were abducted by Hamas during its attacks, "rather than calling for a ceasefire."