China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang has reached out to his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, offering to facilitate peace talks and expressing support for the resumption of negotiations towards a two-state solution. These separate phone calls come amid China’s recent efforts to position itself as a mediator in the region, following its successful brokering of the restoration of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran in March.
During his conversation with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, Qin emphasized the importance of political courage and steps towards resuming peace talks, while also pointing to the example set by Saudi Arabia and Iran in overcoming differences through dialogue. He added that China is willing to provide convenience for the resumption of talks. Cohen expressed his country’s commitment to reducing tensions, but also highlighted the difficulty in resolving the conflict in the short term, and called on China to help prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
In his conversation with Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, Qin reiterated China’s willingness to play an active role in the resumption of talks towards a two-state solution.
The outreach from China’s Foreign Minister comes at a time of increased violence in the region, with tensions between Israelis and Palestinians running high following an Israeli police raid on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound. The Israeli military has responded with strikes on sites linked to Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls Gaza.
China’s recent diplomatic offensive in the region is part of a broader effort to position itself as a major player on the global stage, with Beijing seeking to challenge the dominance of the United States as the world’s main diplomatic powerbroker. This has involved an expansion of China’s economic and political influence across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, with a particular focus on building closer ties with countries that have traditionally been allies of the United States.
China’s interest in the Middle East is driven by a number of factors, including its dependence on oil imports from the region, its concern over the spread of terrorism and extremism, and its desire to project itself as a responsible global leader. The country’s growing involvement in the region has been met with mixed reactions, with some countries welcoming China’s diplomatic efforts while others remain wary of Beijing’s intentions.
As China seeks to expand its influence and play a greater role in global affairs, it is likely that we will see more initiatives like this in the coming years. Whether China can successfully mediate peace talks between Israel and Palestine remains to be seen, but its efforts to do so are a sign of its growing importance in the region and on the world stage more broadly.