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China has expressed disapproval of Israel’s military actions in Gaza, causing annoyance to the United States.
China has expressed disapproval of Israel's military actions in Gaza, causing annoyance to the United States.

China has expressed disapproval of Israel’s military actions in Gaza, causing annoyance to the United States.

The Chinese government spoke out
This week, there has been a rise in Israeli military activity in the southern city of Rafah in Gaza. The criticism from the organization, which had been relatively quiet about the matter, has once again drawn attention to it.

China’s stance on the conflict between Israel and Gaza. and the regional conflict that has ensued. Many American officials and analysts have expressed frustration over what they perceive as China’s

insufficient dedication

Some analysts suggest that China’s efforts towards promoting peace in the region are driven by a combination of factors, including a limited influence over other countries in the area, concerns about their own human rights issues, and a contentment with allowing the U.S. to take charge. However, others argue that there may be other underlying motivations at play.

damage its own reputation on a global scale by supporting Israel’s widely unpopular war.

What prompted China’s criticism on Monday was an Israeli military operation in Rafah

On that day, an event resulted in the death of more than 100 Palestinians and the release of two Israeli hostages held by Hamas. Additionally, Amnesty International published a statement on the same day.reportto exercise maximum restraint

The Israeli military has been accused of carrying out four “illegal” attacks on Rafah, resulting in the deaths of 95 civilians, including 42 children. The Chinese government has urged Israel to show restraint in response to these incidents.

Cease military operations at the earliest opportunity.

Please make every effort to prevent harm to innocent civilians and mitigate a potential humanitarian crisis in Rafah.

Several experts in the United States have expressed disapproval of China’s actions. Léonie Allard, a member of the Atlantic Council, stated, “Beijing is freeriding on US and European security guarantees to enhance its own presence and influence in the Gulf and the northwestern Indian Ocean. It is reaping benefits and advancing its own goals, while others carry the engagement and reputational costs of securing sea lanes.” In Foreign Policy, Christina Lu relayed other comments from while the world struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic

Experts from a prominent American research organization have voiced disapproval towards China for not taking action to help the global community with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.:

According to Jon Alterman, the director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, China is mostly taking a passive approach and allowing the United States to face criticism. He also stated that China’s primary focus in the Middle East is observing as a growing rift between the U.S. and many countries in the global south emerges.

[…] China has “clearly eschewed any substantive role in the ongoing conflict,” Patricia Kim, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Foreign Policy in an email. While Beijing wants to portray itself as a regional power broker, she said, “it has zero interest in serving as a security provider or directly intervening in challenging situations that might jeopardize its relationships in the region.” [Source]

The stakes were raised for both the United States and China in late November when they expressed support for Palestine. in 2015.

Starting in 2015, Houthi rebels initiated attacks on commercial ships in Yemen.

The Houthis have attacked ships passing through the Red Sea that have ties to Israel and the U.S. However, they have stated that they will not target ships connected to China, as long as they are not linked to Israel. Despite this, two large shipping companies, Chinese state-owned COSCO and Hong Kong-based conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings, have been affected.suspended their services to Israel in early January. 

a significant impact on the economy

The economy has been significantly affected by the interruption of worldwide shipping in the area.

adverse impacts on the Chinese economy

China has refrained from using military force to address the crisis, as reported by Reuters in late January.reported
Beijing exerted pressure on Iranian officials – which has been a common practice historically.

Supported the Houthis.

“To prevent further Houthi assaults on vessels in the Red Sea, it is necessary to take action or else face potential damage to our trade connections with China. This coincided with The Financial Times reporting.”reported

Some Chinese shipping companies have moved their ships to the Red Sea and Suez Canal, taking advantage of China’s perceived protection from Houthi assaults.

During a conversation with NPR host Scott Simon, Dawn Murphy, a faculty member at the U.S. National War College specializing in national security strategy, stated that…suggested that the U.S. pursue peace by pressuring China to leverage its positive relationship with Iran:

Looking at it from the United States’ point of view, China has the potential to influence Iran’s actions. However, I want to emphasize that this would be through encouragement rather than coercion, as there is an unlikely belief that China could force Iran to change its behavior. Nevertheless, China does have good relationships with both Iran and other countries in the region, including non-state actors. Therefore, I believe this could have a positive impact.

I believe that much of the communication and decision-making will happen behind closed doors. I say this because China is currently in a sensitive position where it does not want to align itself with either side of the Israel-Hamas conflict, as well as the tensions between the Saudis, Iranians, and Israelis. China wants to maintain a neutral stance and avoid being perceived as favoring the United States due to the overall competitive dynamic between the two countries.Source]


Iran and China have a strong relationship. Sara Bazoobandi, a researcher at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies, recently wrote an article in Middle East Policy discussing this partnership.

Highlighting the strong relationship between Iran and China.
She observed that Iran’s perception of the evolving relationship between China and the United States has led them to strengthen their connections with China. They have also adjusted their policies in the hopes of being a contributing factor in what Tehran views as China’s expanding sphere of influence in the Gulf region.

Iran’s influence is limited.

The Houthis and other rebel groups in Iraq and Syria have been in control of the area.

More than 168 assaults on individuals employed by the United States.

Since the beginning of the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in October, there has been a notable increase in tensions. As noted by Jonathan Fulton in his article for the Atlantic Council,

China’s ability to influence Iran is limited. :

Despite the region posing a threat to China’s interests, Beijing seems to have limited ability to influence Iran.

The economic benefits of the partnership between Iran and China have not met the expectations of the Iranians. Despite finalizing a comprehensive strategic partnership deal in 2021, Iran has only received $185 million in Chinese investment, while Saudi Arabia has provided over $5 billion in the same time period. Iran’s deputy economy minister, Ali Fekri, expressed dissatisfaction with the low level of Chinese investment in Iran, stating that they have the capability to invest more. This frustration led to Iran’s decision in January to stop providing cheap oil to China and demand higher prices, which undermines the perception of Chinese influence and leverage in Tehran and the greater Middle East and North Africa region.Source]


In a recent article, Reid Standish from RFE/RL also mentioned that Beijing is probably not interested in discontinuing the aforementioned thing.

Potentially causing more harm to America’s interests than its own.

Currently, Chaziza, a senior educator at Ashkelon Academic College in Israel, reiterated this idea to CNN by saying:

China is not interested in being a part of a U.S.-led Western alliance.

According to Yun Sun, director of the China Program at the Stimson Center, taking this action would enhance the U.S.’s dominance in the region and diminish China’s influence. In her op-ed for the South China Morning Post, Sun expressed this belief.

China’s most straightforward and politically expedient reaction to the current unrest in the Middle East is not to align with the United States, but to shift the blame onto them.:

China’s actions in the Middle East are influenced by two main elements: their perception of potential threats and their strategic considerations in regards to their rivalry with the United States as a global power. When it comes to handling relations with the US, China has adopted a stance of “no cooperation, no support, no confrontation.” This principle guides their choice to not counter the Houthis, who are backed by Iran, as they engage in attacks on shipping routes in the Red Sea.

China is pleased with the weakening of US trustworthiness and influence. As the US continues to support Israel, China will have greater chances to strengthen its relationships with other countries in the Middle East. This will make China’s alternative approach to regional security seem more reliable.

…]

The most convenient and politically advantageous reaction for China in the current crisis in the Middle East is to hold the US and Israel responsible for the turmoil following Hamas’ attacks on Israel on October 7, which sparked the current conflict. China sees the failure to establish a two-state solution with the Palestinians as the root cause of the ongoing crisis and believes it must be addressed before any meaningful resolution can be achieved.Source]

In a recent

A virtual discussion panel about China’s strategy towards the Middle East.

According to Yun Sun, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., China’s reluctance to take bold action may be due to its recognition of the U.S. as the dominant power in the region. This belief shapes China’s interactions with other countries in the region. As China is not the main security provider in the region, its attempts at mediation and proposals are more theoretical than practical, according to Sun. Therefore, some experts argue that it is the responsibility of the U.S., not China, to use its influence to end conflicts among regional actors due to its regional primacy.


Last month, Mark Leonard discussed in Foreign Affairs the outcome of this dynamic and elaborated on how it influences perceptions.

The United States’ double standards regarding potential violations of the laws of war are aiding China in its attempts to gain support from countries in the Global South.:

The recent conflict in Gaza, which has received support from the Biden administration, has further increased distrust towards the United States in the Arab world. Surveys have shown that Arab populations now have a preference for China over the US, which is a continuation of a long-term trend but has been intensified by the Gaza war. A study conducted in 2023 by the European Council on Foreign Relations (of which I am the director) in eight non-Western countries – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa – revealed that China’s stance is more in line with public opinion in the global South compared to Western powers. China’s official positions are careful to reflect the views of the average citizen in countries like Brazil and Turkey on issues such as the outcome of Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, the potential dissolution of the EU, and the stability of American democracy.

China’s attempt to mirror global public opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is part of a much broader strategy aimed at winning over the global South. First and foremost, the wars in Ukraine and Gaza underpin China’s argument that the world is becoming ever more disorderly. In Beijing’s view, the United States’ support for Israel’s campaign in Gaza demonstrates that its much-vaunted rules-based order was always a self-serving sham. Whereas the United States was quick to condemn Russian war crimes in Ukraine and China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, it has remained silent when confronted with what the rest of the world views as identical behavior by Israel. [Source]

In their article for the Made in China Journal, Darren Byler and Karissa Ketter highlighted a different angle of China’s involvement in Israel’s predictive-policing technology, specifically the use of Chinese camera systems. Through the perspective of the global war on terror (GWOT), they explain the implications of this partnership.

The similarities between Israel-Palestine and China-Xinjiang limit China’s actions towards the atrocities happening in Gaza.:

The Chinese government’s use of technology to target Muslims domestically, along with the history of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), has influenced their response to Israel’s invasion of Gaza. While they appear to support Palestinian autonomy, this support may be strategic in order to gain international support for their mass internment of Uyghurs. This stance is primarily motivated by opposition to US imperialism and their perception of it as a driving force behind Israel’s actions. However, Chinese investments in Israeli infrastructure and policing mean they cannot openly show too much support for Palestinians. The similarities between the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and Chinese colonization of Uyghur lands are also reflected in Chinese policing and ethnic policies.Source]

2022 Winter Olympics

China’s response to the 2022 Winter Olympics was carefully worded and understated due to the significant impact of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Decision made by the International Court of Justice, which ordered Israel to desist from killing Palestinians in Gaza and to prevent genocidal acts. Kate Bartlett from VOA described in Darfur

China’s unease over the possibility of the United Nations successfully prosecuting individuals accused of committing genocide in Darfur.:

According to Paul Nantulya, a research associate at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, there is a private concern about setting a precedent. He also mentioned that it is possible for a country not directly involved in the events in Xinjiang to bring a case to the ICJ.

“I believe this may be a difficult issue for the Chinese, considering their membership in the ICJ,” stated Nantulya.


He stated that Beijing is not likely to criticize Israel or the U.S. for any failure to comply, and will instead take a gentle approach.
Source]

Domestic political considerations will also play a role in China’s level of involvement in the Middle East. Last week, the China-MENA podcast released an episode titled “

The internal factors that influence China’s foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa region.
At Brookings, Patricia M. Kim, Kevin Dong, and Mallie Prytherch examined the internal workings of the Chinese Communist Party and its connection to the stability of the Party-state and China’s global interests.
Chinese narratives on the Israel-Hamas war to show there is little support among the Chinese public for their government taking a stronger position in the Middle East region:

Despite four Chinese citizens losing their lives, six being wounded, and two remaining unaccounted for during the current conflict, the news has not garnered much attention from internet users. While censorship may play a role in the lack of discussion on Chinese social media, the overall lack of a strong societal response and calls for government intervention indicate a disconnect between the Chinese public and the ongoing crisis.

[…] A public opinion poll conducted by Tsinghua University’s Center for International Security and Strategy in November 2022 showed only 3.3% of Chinese believe peace in the Middle East should be China’s top international priority. In fact, it was the lowest-ranked issue in the poll, trailing far behind other topics such as pandemics, territorial disputes, and U.S.-China relations. While this poll predates the current crisis, it is highly likely that if it were conducted again today, the Middle East would rank far behind other key issues. [Source]