China’s Xi calls for peace conference to end ‘tremendous suffering’ in Gaza

China’s leader tells Arab leaders that Israel’s war on Gaza ‘should not continue indefinitely’, pledges more aid.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the opening ceremony of the 10th Ministerial Meeting of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing [Jade Gao/AFP]Published On 30 May 202430 May 2024

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a peace conference aimed at resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict and ending “tremendous suffering” in Gaza.

Addressing Arab leaders at the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing on Thursday, Xi said Israel’s war on Gaza “should not continue indefinitely” and “justice should not be absent forever”.

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His remarks come as Israel deepens its offensive on Gaza, seizing the strategic Philadelphi Corridor on the border between the enclave and Egypt, while engaging in a renewed push into the northern Gaza Strip, Israel’s national security adviser indicated on Wednesday that the war is likely to continue for another seven months.

Xi said China would continue to help with alleviating the humanitarian crisis and post-war rebuilding in Gaza, pledging to provide another 500 million yuan ($69m) in emergency humanitarian assistance.

The country will also donate $3m to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) to support its emergency assistance to Gaza, Xi said.

Diplomatic clout

China has repeatedly called for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as an immediate ceasefire and Palestinian membership in the UN – positions which align closely with those of Arab nations.

The country is increasingly flexing its diplomatic influence in the region, hosting the first talks on Chinese soil between feuding Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in April.

Last year, China also brokered a landmark reconciliation deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia after years of hostilities between the two archrivals.

“The Middle East is a land bestowed with broad prospects for development, but the war is still raging on it,” Xi said in front of the heads of state of Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia, as well as foreign ministers from other Arab League nations.

Analysts say China is seeking to leverage the war in Gaza to boost its standing in the region, framing its efforts to end that conflict against perceived US inaction.

“Beijing sees the ongoing conflict as a golden opportunity to criticise the West’s double standards on the international scene and call for an alternative global order,” Camille Lons, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told the AFP news agency.

Talking about trade, Xi said China, a massive buyer of Gulf energy, would further cooperate with Arab states on several fronts including in the oil and gas fields.

He committed support for Chinese energy companies and financial institutions to participate in renewable energy projects with a total installed capacity of more than 3 million kilowatts in Arab countries.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies