GEW Assessment Report

Chinese translation ( ZHIYUAN THINK TANK)

The USA, China, and the Arabs: Two Conflicting Strategies

Shock and Awe Vs. Win-Win

While the USA has always chosen to be the enemy of the Arabs, even when it seems to act as a “friend”, China has never been hostile to the Arab world or shown any kind of supremacist behaviour. What happened recently in Gaza is telling tones about how the two states deal with other nations.

China and the United States hold opposing views on the ongoing violence in Gaza. China has conveyed its worry and disapproval of Israel’s activities, emphasising the importance of a peaceful resolution through the construction of an independent Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution [Jazeera, “China’s Wang Urges Peace in Calls with Israeli, Palestinian Counterparts”]. China has also criticised Israel’s conduct, blaming the US for inflaming tensions in the region. China has not directly denounced Hamas for their acts, which has prompted criticism from Western officials [Jazeera, “Why Is France’s Macron Visiting Israel?”], as they do not regard Hamas as a national liberation movement, nor do they acknowledge the people of Palestine’s right to oppose Zionist oppression. To summarise, Western countries maintain the same positions they had many years ago about Yasser Arafat’s PLO and Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC). They were terrorists as is Hamas today.

The US has voiced dissatisfaction with China’s approach to the crisis and has strongly endorsed Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas attacks [Aboudouh, “China’s Approach to the War in Gaza Is Not Anti-Israel. It’s Designed to Contain the US.”] The US has been more vociferous in condemning Hamas’ conduct, but has failed to criticise Israel’s genocide in Gaza or force Netanyahu to a ceasefire, owing to the Biden administration’s lack of urgency in defending more than 2 million Palestinian civilians.

Furthermore, instead of focusing on the specific dispute at hand, China has emphasised the fundamental path to resolving the Palestinian issue. This policy aligns with China’s long-standing support for Palestine, which it recognised as a state in 1988. China’s attitude has been described as “pro-Palestinian neutrality,” and it has urged all parties involved to remain calm, exercise moderation, and cease violence to safeguard civilians. According to China’s foreign ministry, China is “a friend to both Israel and Palestine” [Pike, “The Israel-Hamas War Is Testing China’s Diplomatic Strategy”]. Compare this with the USA.

China’s response to the war is also seen as an attempt to attract Arab support. China’s support for the Palestinian cause has helped it gain regional allies, and its current strategy may resonate with the Arab world and the wider Muslim-majority globe [Pike, “The Israel-Hamas War Is Testing China’s Diplomatic Strategy”]. Despite China’s increasing interest in the region, many believe it has little inclination to become directly involved in conflicts. Instead, China has sought to maintain neutrality and act as a mediator between countries.

China’s criticism of Israel’s actions has grown stronger as the war has progressed. Wang Yi, China’s Foreign Minister, stated that “Israel’s actions have exceeded the scope of self-defence” and urged the country to “stop imposing collective punishment on the people of Gaza”[“China’s Attitude Toward the Israel-Gaza War”]. Compare this with the USA.

Shock and Awe: A Strategy of Cowers Against Small Powers

True, the manner the United States deals with Arabs differs from that of China. Since the fall of the URSS, the United States has seen itself as the sole superpower, and this should be enough to instil dread in those who oppose its imperialist objectives. All of us remember the “Shock and Awe” strategy (Baghdad ‘shock and awe’AOAV, 2014).

Shock and awe is a US-designed military strategy that tries to paralyse the enemy’s view of the battlefield and destroy their will to fight by using overwhelming might and stunning demonstrations of force. It is sometimes referred to as rapid dominance. The strategy is predicated on the premise that it is feasible to win a quick and decisive victory over a weak adversary by combining sophisticated technology, intelligence, and precision-guided bombs.

The phrase “shock and awe” was coined by Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade in their 1996 book “Shock and Awe”: Achieving Rapid Dominance”. The technique was later used by the US during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Indeed, “shock and Awe” is designed for small and medium powers. With powers like Russia, or China – even with North Korea – it will never succeed. Because the reaction will be immediate and far more lethal.

 

China’s Relationship With The Arab World

China’s relationship with the Arab world dates back to the Rashidun Caliphate, when there were vital trading routes and good diplomatic relations. Modern Sino-Arab relations have become much stronger since the creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), with the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) assisting in the formation of a new partnership in an era of increasing globalisation. As a result, the two sides have maintained close economic, political, and military ties. From 2018, ties improved markedly, with the PRC and Arab countries exchanging state visits, establishing cooperation institutions, and offering reciprocal support.

China’s relationship with the Arab world has been distinguished by a quiet but determined diplomacy, with the country exploiting various opportunities to increase its influence with Arab governments and peoples. This is part of the national Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched by Beijing. In a 2016 policy paper, China highlighted its stance towards the Arab world, including aims to develop connections. Unlike in financially insolvent countries, where China engages in a form of grin diplomacy and money printing, China’s approach in the Arab world is more nuanced. China has realised that money does not buy everything and that politics is more important (Karoui and Karar, 2018].

China has formed extensive strategic alliances with numerous Arab countries, notably Algeria and Egypt in 2014, Saudi Arabia in 2016, and the United Arab Emirates in 2016. In 2014, China formed strategic alliances with Qatar, Iraq in 2015, Morocco in 2016, and Oman and Kuwait in 2018. China and Arab states created the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in 2004 and the China-Arab States Expo in 2013 at the multilateral level [“Xi’s Visit Marks New Era for China-Arab Relations”].

China regards its cooperation with the Arabs as an example of South-South cooperation, as well as a component in the development of communities of shared future. Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia in December 2022 to attend the first China-Arab States Summit and the first China-GCC Summit. Xi Jinping stated in his keynote presentation at the China-Arab States Summit that “as strategic partners, China and Arab states should carry forward the spirit of China-Arab friendship, strengthen solidarity and cooperation, and foster a closer China-Arab community with a shared future”[Deepak, “Arab World Is China’s New Strategic Pillar – The Sunday Guardian Live”].

Finally, China’s connection with the Arab world has a lengthy diplomatic history that has grown over time to include economic cooperation, cultural exchanges, and new advancements in strategic partnerships. In the context of global political and economic developments, this link continues to grow and evolve.

Promoting Peace Instead of Pouring Oil On Fire

What did Biden, Sunak, and Macron do after Israel bombarded Gaza 24 hours a day, seven days a week? They rushed to Israel one after the other, encouraging Netanyahu to finish the carnage he had begun and promising him all kinds of support (funds, weapons, logistics, and military backing) while vetoing any UN action against Israel. People in the Middle East and other parts of the world are unlikely to forget these openly antagonistic sentiments against downtrodden people. This is demonstrated by street demonstrations in various Western cities (including London, Paris, New York, and Washington, DC).
What did China do instead?

China has taken several steps to advance peace in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

1. Diplomatic and Mediation Efforts: Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China has actively participated in diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the crisis. He has made a series of phone calls to foreign leaders, imploring Israel to halt its collective punishment of Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and heed the international community’s appeal and the United Nations Secretary-General [Tan, “China Says Israel’s Actions in Gaza Are ‘beyond Self Defense’ as U.S. Races to Avert Wider Conflict”]. Zhai Jun, China’s special envoy to the Middle East, has also met with representatives from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the Arab League, and the European Union to discuss a two-state solution and Palestinian recognition at the United Nations [Pomfret, Cash, and Lin, “Israel-Hamas Conflict Tests Limits of China’s Approach to the Middle East”].

2. Humanitarian Assistance to Gaza: China has announced the shipment of humanitarian aid to satisfy the pressing needs of those in Gaza. The relief is being delivered by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Palestinian National Authority [ Khaliq,2023].

3. Support for UN Resolutions and Cease-Fire Calls: China has urged for an international peace conference with more substantial power and influence as soon as feasible in order to galvanise a more broad-based international agreement on the two-state solution and to develop a timeline and roadmap to that end. China supports the Security Council’s decision to convene an emergency meeting on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, agrees that the meeting should focus on humanitarian concerns, demand a cease-fire, an end to violence, and the protection of civilians, forge a binding international consensus, and take concrete next steps [ Wang, 2023].

4. Public Protest of Israel’s Actions: China has openly criticised Israel’s actions in the crisis. We already mentioned the statement of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, [Tan, “China Says Israel’s Actions in Gaza Are ‘beyond Self Defense’ as U.S. Races to Avert Wider Conflict”]. Zhang Jun, China’s UN envoy, also condemned the ‘indiscriminate use of force’ and urged Israel to respect its commitments under international humanitarian law [Ip, 2023].

5. Participation of Regional and International Stakeholders: China has collaborated with regional and international stakeholders to promote regional peace. Special Envoy Zhai Jun has held phone calls with officials from Egypt’s, Palestine’s, Israel’s, and Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministries to express China’s perspective on the present situation and actively push peace talks.

In conclusion, China’s attempts to promote peace in the Israel-Gaza conflict have been comprehensive, involving diplomatic efforts, humanitarian help, UN resolution backing, public condemnation of Israel’s conduct, and engagement with regional and international partners. Compare this with the “leaders” of the so-called “free world”.

Compare all this with the war-mongering Western governments.

What Makes China Positions Regarding the Palestine-Israel Conflict So Precious to the Arabs?

The Arab world greatly values China’s position on the Palestine-Israel issue for various reasons:

1. Historical Alignment with Liberation Movements: Since the 1960s and 1970s, China has persistently backed the Palestinian cause, identifying with Maoism and liberation movements. Beijing armed and trained the PLO and other Palestinian militant groups throughout this period. Because of this historical alignment, China and the Arab world have developed a sense of solidarity and trust [Palmer, 2023].

2. Mediating Role: China has offered to mediate the Israel-Palestine dispute, promoting a two-state solution. It has hosted peace symposiums and trilateral talks with Israelis and Palestinians in the hopes of resuming negotiations [Burton, 2018]. China’s historical background and constant support for the Palestinian cause endow it with a degree of neutrality that resonates with the international community, allowing it to serve as a vital mediator[3]. However, Israel and the USA refuse peace and would sabotage any attempt to resolve the conflict on even terms.

3. Arab World Solidarity: China’s position on the Israel-Palestine conflict is consistent with Arab world feelings. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has urged “relevant parties to remain calm, exercise restraint, and immediately end hostilities to protect civilians. This pro-justice neutrality is famous in the Arab world and throughout the Muslim-majority world.

4. Middle East Diplomatic Strategy: China’s Middle East diplomatic strategy is characterised by a balanced approach. While developing commercial and technological relations with Israel, it has remained committed to the Palestinian cause. Because of this balanced approach, China can maintain amicable relations with the majority of Arab countries [Burke, 2023].

Finally, China’s historical connection with liberation movements, its role as a mediator, its solidarity with the Arab world, and its Middle East diplomatic policy make its position on the Palestine-Israel dispute valuable to Arabs.

Conclusion

There is no comparison between the People’s Republic of China’s fair positions on the core Middle East conflict and those of the United States, Britain, and France, which have been siding for 75 years with the Zionist colonisation that has displaced a people from its historic land, made them refugees, and has been killing those who remained on the occupied territories in a series of infamous genocides. Western democracies treat Palestinians like thugs who believe only in force and violence and treat honest people.
This is why the Arab people esteem and admire friendly China, with whom they currently participate in an ongoing conversation about the future. Because of their animosity towards the Palestinian right to resist, Western and Israeli governments have self-identified as enemies of justice and international law. They are no longer an ethical role model to emulate. Most Arabs and Muslims are aware of this.

 


 

References For Further Reading

Aboudouh, Ahmed. “China’s Approach to the War in Gaza Is Not Anti-Israel. It’s Designed to Contain the US.” Chatham House – International Affairs Think Tank, October 25, 2023. https://www.chathamhouse.org/2023/10/chinas-approach-war-gaza-not-anti-israel-its-designed-contain-us.

Burke, Jason. (2023).”China and Russia Harden Positions on Gaza As War Stirs Geopolitical Tensions.” The Guardian. Last modified October 16, 2023. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/16/china-russia-harden-positions-gaza-war-geopolitical-tensions.

Burton, Guy. (2018)”China, Jerusalem and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” Middle East Institute. Accessed October 26, 2023. https://www.mei.edu/publications/china-jerusalem-and-israeli-palestinian-conflict.

“Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on October 13, 2023.” 中华人民共和国外交部. Last modified October 13, 2023. https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/202310/t20231013_11160691.html.

Ip, Cyril. “China Condemns ‘heinous Attack’ on Gaza Hospital at UN Security Council.” South China Morning Post. Last modified October 19, 2023. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3238471/israel-gaza-war-china-condemns-heinous-attack-hospital-and-urges-ceasefire-priority-un-security.

Palmer, James. “Where Does China Stand on the Israel-Hamas War?” Foreign Policy. Last modified October 10, 2023. https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/10/10/china-israel-hamas-war-palestine-xi-jinping/.

Jazeera, Al. “China’s Wang Urges Peace in Calls with Israeli, Palestinian Counterparts.” Israel-Palestine conflict News | Al Jazeera, October 24, 2023. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/24/chinas-wang-urges-peace-in-calls-with-israeli-palestinian-counterpartshttps://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/24/chinas-wang-urges-peace-in-calls-with-israeli-palestinian-counterparts.

Jazeera, Al. “Why Is France’s Macron Visiting Israel?” Israel-Palestine conflict News | Al Jazeera, October 24, 2023. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/24/why-is-macron-visiting-israel.

The Diplomat. “Xi’s Visit Marks New Era for China-Arab Relations,” December 13, 2022. https://thediplomat.com/2022/12/xis-visit-marks-new-era-for-china-arab-relations/.

Deepak, B. R. “Arab World Is China’s New Strategic Pillar – The Sunday Guardian Live.” The Sunday Guardian Live, September 23, 2023. https://sundayguardianlive.com/opinion/arab-world-is-chinas-new-strategic-pillar.

Tan, Clement. “China Says Israel’s Actions in Gaza Are ‘beyond Self Defense’ as U.S. Races to Avert Wider Conflict.” CNBC, October 16, 2023. https://www.cnbc.com/2023/10/16/china-says-israels-actions-in-gaza-have-gone-beyond-self-defense.html.

Pomfret, James, Joe Cash, and Chen Lin. “Israel-Hamas Conflict Tests Limits of China’s Approach to the Middle East.” Reuters, October 12, 2023. https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east-crisis-test-limits-chinas-diplomatic-push-2023-10-10/.

Khaliq , Riyaz ul (2023)”China Sending Emergency Humanitarian Aid to Gaza.” Anadolu Ajansı. Accessed October 26, 2023. https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/china-sending-emergency-humanitarian-aid-to-gaza/3021783.

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