The Future of Relations between China and Palestine

Jul 17, 2023 02:04 pm

Hussam Al-Dajani

Eyes are focused on China's foreign policy and its evolving status and role within the international system, along with its tremendous competitiveness driving it to catch up with the advancements and prosperity of the United States of America. This also qualifies China to compete on regional and international issues.

The Middle East has historically been a region where the United States of America exerted significant influence. However, in recent time, there has been a shift in the American strategy in the Middle East, with focus on Central and South Asia to encounter the development and expansion of China. On the other hand, China, is utilizing soft power to carve out its own space in the Middle East, following its success in the African coast and other regions.

This article revolves around certain questions, which are: How does China look at Palestine? How does Palestine review China as well? What is required from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to achieve the goals that would establish regional and international stability? What is the position of the Palestinian resistance factions within the Chinese strategy?

The pursuit of China towards the building of strategic relations with both Palestine and Israel simultaneously is the core Chinese dilemma. As a result, China has fallen in an explicit contradiction and severe vulnerability in regard to its political performance towards the Zionist-Palestinian conflict, and has prompted it to coup against the international law for the sake of this policy.  

There is a discrepancy in the political reading of China's view towards the Palestinian cause. This vision can be divided into three schools, as follows:

The first school perceives that China's vision on Palestine is derived from values and principles that believe in the justice of the Palestinian cause and the stolen Palestinian rights. Additionally, the international legislative resolutions, the injustice inflicted on the Palestinian cause, and the repression and tyranny Palestinians suffer from.

The second school believes that China approaches the Palestinian issue through competition, rivalry and breaking of the American monopoly over the Middle East issues, including the significance of the Palestinian cause amongst those issues.

The third school believes that China adopts a biased neutrality towards the Israeli occupation based on Beijing's perception of the interests it shares with Tel Aviv, including substantial economic relations. It argues that the Arab world is divided, and there is no accurate scrutiny of China's foreign policy, which contributes to influencing it in favor of the Palestinian cause and other Arab and Islamic issues.

Indeed, while it is difficult to determine one perspective over another, there is often an overlap amongst these schools of thought. This therefore pushes some to describe the Chinese foreign policy towards the Palestinian cause as ambiguous, despite that President Mahmoud Abbas was heartily welcomed when he visited China as the first Arab president this year to later meet and sign a bilateral strategic partnership agreement with China President Xi Jinping. In contrast, the official Chinese speech which describes Israel as a Jewish state contradicts the values of democracy and displays China as complimenting Israel on the account of the international law. It also demonstrates that China supports the policy of racial discrimination against the non-Jewish individuals in Israel. Additionally, China has bought shares of some companies working inside settlements, as what happened with one of the cosmetics and dairy companies. However, the Chinese Ambassador in Ramallah negated that.

At the Palestinian level, Palestinians look at China with respect. They strongly hope it would be able to break the supremacy of the United States of America over the region, thus establishing a competitive phase serving the Palestinian interests. Additionally, the Palestinian people wish that China and its people would exert pressure to adopt a foreign policy generating from the respect of the international law and human rights.  

According to the principles of international law, the resistance against the Zionist occupation is legislative and, therefore, the acts of resistance cannot be deemed as terrorism. Also, the classification of the Palestinian factions as terrorist organizations by the United States of America and the European Union lacks legitimacy. Realizing the importance of Palestine in the Chinese awareness, a question is being asked about the public relations connecting Beijing with the Islamic Resistance Movement of Hamas, be it in meetings or calls that started after Hamas won the legislative elections in 2006. Any transformation in the relations between Beijing and Hamas will serve China in three aspects, which are:

  • Further openness, effectiveness and influence in the Palestinian cause regarding the war-peace decision, and playing a role in the Palestinian reconciliation. Perhaps, Beijing's involvement goes beyond that, as it may work on exploring and extracting gas off the coast of Gaza and channeling it for export to European markets in order to enable Palestinian development and economic growth.  
  • A pressure card over the United States of America and its allies.
  • The use of soft power to influence the societal awareness of the people of the Arab and Islamic work, for what is represented by the Palestinian resistance factions and Hamas Movement for those nations.

In conclusion, it is estimated that the Chinese diplomacy within the Middle East needs more courage and openness to all components. Whoever needs to be politically active must play untraditional roles. This is what the Palestinian streets await following the speech delivered by the President of China and the strategic partnership agreement. Would this agreement establish more explicit and supportive standings on the Palestinian cause? We will wait.

The future of relations between China and Palestine establishes a direct correlation between China and the Islamic world. As Chinese-Palestinian relations develop in a clear and unequivocal manner, there is no room for doubt that China's relations in the region will evolve, and its interests will increase. However, the central challenge for such a development is the relations between Beijing and Tel Aviv. So, would China succeed to make a clearer comparison through evaluating its speeches and economic projects with Israel in regard to those connected to settlements, serving China's role in the peace talks? This question is directed for the Chinese nation and its elites for more influence and evaluation in what would serve the values of justice and law.