Two global leaders poles apart on the same issueOct 21, 2023
China’s stance on war is very clear, in fact, it could not be more clear. In every conflict on the globe China calls for peaceful resolution and dialogue to resolve differences rather than force. A recently released White Paper, on the White Paper, on the Belt and Road Initiative, emphasised this calling for global peace, security and safety. China is nothing, if not consistent in this.
The position China has taken on the Palestine-Israel conflict is equally unambiguous with as much emphasis on the solution, as there is on lasting peace. China has long supported, the Two State Solution as well as UN Resolution 2334, which calls for the 1976 borders to be honoured and the immediate cessation of Israeli settlement on Palestinian land.
It’s hard to find a more consistent point of view. Xi Jinping and Mahmoud Abbas have met several times and each time, there is another call for the UN to assist Palestine achieve the Two-State Solution and to stop violence in the region – from all sides.
One country that does not appear to be so consistent is the USA. It’s very hard to broker peace when supplying so many arms to the region. The USA funds Israel’s defence to the tune of billions every year. Israel over the last few decades, has spent some of that money creating Hamas which has now, in perhaps the second greatest blowback in human history, the first being the US creation of Al-Qaeda, attacked Israel.
Was Hamas wrong to do so, is a question that will be asked for many years; how Hamas was able to do so will be the subject of military and intelligence analysis for a very long time too. They were able to mass hundreds of troops, gather thousands of rocket launchers, some homemade, some supplied through black markets and some, according to speculative reports, provided by their supporters in places such as Iran. All this (apparently), without being noticed by the combined security and intelligence gathering operations of Mossad, Israel’s military intelligence, the CIA and MI6 who all operate in the region and would surely have significant intelligence gathering capabilities, as the region is recognised as one of the world’s most volatile hotspots.
What is known, and we can safely assume it is true because it made the pages of the NY Times is that the conditions in Gaza are “dismal”. In all seriousness, dismal doesn’t cut it. According to the UN, last year the number of unemployed in Gaza, after 15 years of a blockade, stood at 81.5%. Water in the regions comes either through aid packages or from wells, many of which have been destroyed leading to more than 80% of the available water failing to meet WHO standards – dismal is a fairly hard adjective to surpass but synonyms such as miserable or depressing won’t meet the needs either; catastrophic, appalling and even inhumane might get us closer.
And now, Secretary of State Blinken called Wang Yi, his opposite number in China. This is the same secretary of State who has accused China of a genocide (of Muslims) in Xinjiang, abuse of human rights in Hong Kong and Tibet and of an aggressive stance over Taiwan. Now, there is speculation that he’s asking for China to use its influence to help. That seems unlikely and neither party has officially confirmed this in the information they presented to the world.
On the phone call, the US State Department issued a 107 word notice confirming that the USA stands with Israel and condemns the terrorists attacks, while reiterating US support for Israel’s right to defend itself, it also called for an immediate cessation of Hamas’ attacks and the release of all hostages. There is no mention of asking China for support, nor a hint of a suggestion of ending hostilities, only a comment that it’s important to discourage other from entering the conflict.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not released a statement or given a briefing on the phone call, but China.org has a summary of the conversation which was described as a briefing to explain Blinken’s, and therefore the USA’s, stance on the situation.
Contrary to US commitment that Israel has the right to defend itself, China’s stance, according to the report is that de-escalation and immediate ceasefires are the top priorities, Wang also stated that:
“safeguarding one’s own security should not come at the cost of harming innocent civilians, that military options lead to nowhere, and that repaying violence with violence only creates vicious cycles”
He went on to say that humanitarian corridors must be opened and that international law must be observed. Another point that was made is that China seeks the broad consensus of the international community. All very different from Blinken seeking China’s influence!
It’s clear from media reports across the globe that while some governments are calling for Israel to have the right of reprisals, the people they represent, in the UK, USA, Europe and many other countries, are protesting in the streets in support of the plight of Palestinians. With US politicians apparently outraged by ordinary people challenging their narrative.
The Palestinian people, according to China, deserve at least what UN Resolution 2334 provides and the entire region requires reconciliation between the Arab and Israeli peoples. Without this there will be no peace in the Middle East and without a Two State Solution no end to the conflict. The Two State Solution was first proposed and adopted in 1947 in the United Nations and the United States has, for decades, and still does support it but has failed to find a way to implement it.
The USA, and its allies, continue to assert Israel’s right to “self-defence”, the USA has not called for the ending of bombing raids in civilian areas, does not call for the cessation of hostilities, and has presided over 75 years of failure to find solutions to the problems. They are now also sending two Carrier strike groups into the region, one to support Israel and the other to prevent escalation and “discourage other parties from entering the conflict”. China, on the other hand, continues to promote peace, calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities from both sides, urges the international community to come together at the earliest opportunity and asks that all participants abide by the rule of law.
The two global leaders couldn’t be more different.