June 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

Chinese President Addresses Arab Leaders in Beijing

June 1, 2024 | Flash Brief

Chinese President Addresses Arab Leaders in Beijing

Latest Developments

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to deepen cooperation with the Arab world and called for Palestinian statehood in an address to Arab leaders on May 30. “Since last October, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has escalated drastically, throwing people into tremendous suffering,” Xi said in remarks at the China-Arab State Cooperation Forum in Beijing. “Commitment to the two-state solution should not be wavered at will,” he added. Xi called for an international peace conference and vowed to provide 69 million dollars of humanitarian assistance for Gaza, as well as three million dollars for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Additionally, Xi called for strengthening China-Arab cooperation in trade, energy, space exploration, and other fields.

Expert Analysis

“We should remind our partners that a regime committing genocide against Muslims in Xinjiang couldn’t care less about the loss of Palestinian life. Our words, however, would carry more weight if we were not pulling back from traditional allies in favor of Iran and allowing China to fill the security vacuum.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Having emboldened Iran and its terrorist proxies for decades, China is clearly keen to capitalize on the Gaza crisis for its own geopolitical gain. Regional stakeholders would be wise to remember Beijing’s role in fanning the flames of today’s instability, as well as how China has supported Russia’s war machine even as it has promoted false promises of peace in Ukraine.” — Craig Singleton, FDD Senior Fellow and Director of FDD’s China Program

Beijing Seeks Enhanced Diplomatic Role in the Middle East

Under Xi, China’s ruling Communist Party has sought to assert its influence over global affairs, including in the Middle East. In March 2023, Beijing brokered a deal that restored diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which had been severed since 2016. In October 2023, Chinese diplomats arrived in Qatar to kick off their own efforts — in partnership with Russia — to resolve the conflict between Hamas and Israel. Beijing also hosted Palestinian unity talks in April in an attempt to smooth over differences between rival Palestinian factions. Hamas, the Iran-backed terrorist group that rules in the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), controlled by the Fatah party and led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, have been in conflict since a brutal 2007 civil war between their supporters in Gaza. 

Chinese Economic Ties to the PA, Iran

In June 2023, Xi and Abbas finalized a “strategic partnership” in which Beijing pledged to increase cooperation with and funding to the PA. China is also the largest customer for Iran’s illegal oil exports.  On October 26 — less than three weeks after Iran-backed Hamas attacked Israel — Chinese Premier Li Qiang affirmed Beijing’s commitment to strengthening its comprehensive strategic partnership with Tehran during a meeting with now-interim Iranian President Mohammad Mokhber, who invited China to increase its investments in Iran, particularly in infrastructure, energy, and tourism.

Progress Elusive as China Hosts Palestinian Unity Talks,” FDD Flash Brief

China Fails to Condemn Hamas Terrorism,” FDD Flash Brief

How Beijing Benefits From a New Iran Deal,” by Craig Singleton

Issues:

Arab Politics China Iran Iran Politics and Economy Israel