Why China Is Siding with the Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas War

(Ha'aretz) Dr. Gideon Elazar - In the days after Oct. 7, there was widespread surprise about China's hostile stance toward Israel. Chinese media barely reported the atrocities of Hamas, emphasizing instead the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. The surprise in Israel at China's approach is heightened by its contrast to China's former distant, uninvolved stance. So what happened? The answer lies in China's broad global ambitions and in its years-long confrontation with the U.S. American support for Israel's war in Gaza is perceived in China as an opportunity to respond to Washington's critical rhetoric regarding China, such as a determination by the U.S. State Department in 2021 that China was guilty of "genocide" against the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang. China's current stance also serves to reward its Muslim allies in the Middle East for their past support; Iran and Saudi Arabia, for example, have not criticized China despite its harsh treatment of the Uyghurs and other Muslims. Moreover, China's stance reflects its growing presence in the Middle East in recent years. China is currently involved in several large projects in the region, including a fast rail line from China to Iran, a rail line from Mecca to Medina, and an overhaul of the Suez Canal. China's prominent anti-Israeli approach is a clear manifestation of the limits of cooperation between Israel and China. The writer is a lecturer in Asian studies at Bar-Ilan University.

2024-01-07 00:00:00

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