June 14, 2023 | Flash Brief

China, Palestinian Authority Sign ‘Strategic Partnership’ Agreement

June 14, 2023 | Flash Brief

China, Palestinian Authority Sign ‘Strategic Partnership’ Agreement

Latest Developments

China and the Palestinian Authority (PA) signed a “strategic partnership” agreement on June 14 during a four-day visit to Beijing by 87-year-old PA President Mahmoud Abbas. During Abbas’ meeting with Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader offered to facilitate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Historically, China has voted against Israel at the United Nations and condemned Israel’s defensive operations against Palestinian terror attacks for supposedly using “excessive force.”

Amid a vacuum left by American foreign policy in the Middle East, China has sought to portray itself as an arbiter capable of bringing together historic adversaries. In March, Beijing brokered an agreement between its two major Middle East trading partners, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Expert Analysis

“China’s criticisms of Israel over Palestinian issues are laughably insincere, as underscored by Beijing’s ghastly treatment of Uighur Muslims, which the Biden administration has termed ‘genocide’ and includes a ban on Muslim religious education and observance.” — Orde Kittrie, FDD Senior Fellow

“The Palestinian decision to align itself with China amidst an uptick in great power competition and a surge of diplomatic activity by China in the Middle East is a finger in the eye of the Biden administration. This is a litmus test for the Biden White House, which has been an advocate for the Palestinian cause. There must be consequences for Mahmoud Abbas if the goal is to sustain the U.S.-led regional order.” Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“China is keen to not only deepen its economic and energy ties throughout the region but to position itself as a diplomatic ballast against the United States. Whether China’s strategic partnership with the Palestinian Authority is more symbolic than substantive remains to be seen, but make no mistake: China is playing for keeps in the Middle East.” Craig Singleton, FDD China Program Deputy Director and Senior Fellow

China Has Supported Palestinians Against Israel

China has sided with Palestinians against Israel since the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949 and only normalized relations with Israel in 1992. Despite this backdrop, China and Israel have strengthened their economic partnership since normalizing ties. China was Israel’s largest trading partner in 2022 besides the United States.

Nothing New in China’s Plan

Xi presented his plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians during his meeting with Abbas. The plan — which is similar to ones promoted by Xi in 2013, 2017, and 2021 — calls for the creation of the Palestinian state on Israel’s pre-1967 borders, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital; increased international aid for the new Palestinian state; and the convening of a high-level international peace conference on the issue.

Struggling Palestinian Economy

The impetus for Abbas’ trip to China may be not only to gain recognition from a significant world power but also to buoy the struggling Palestinian economy. The PA has had budget shortfalls for years and had a $1.26 billion deficit in 2021. The PA continues to slash the salaries of government workers, causing civil unrest. Abbas’ trip to China also comes as he and the PA face low credibility among West Bank residents and rising violence fueled by the influence of Palestinian terrorist organizations.

Saudi Arabia, Iran Agree to Reestablish Diplomatic Ties,” FDD Flash Brief

Abbas Blames Israel for Rise in Terrorism,” FDD Flash Brief


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