Chinese Diplomacy in Focus: Palestinian President Abbas Set for State Visit Amid Beijing’s Push for Middle East Peace

Palestinian President Abbas Set for State Visit Amid Beijing's Push for Middle East Peace

Next week, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas is scheduled to make a formal state visit to China, following Beijing’s recent offer to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. This news came to light on Friday, illustrating China’s increasing influence as a diplomatic intermediary in the Middle East, a role traditionally held by the United States. 

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying announced on Friday that “President Xi Jinping has extended an invitation to the President of the State of Palestine, Mahmud Abbas, who will be on a state visit to China from June 13 to 16.” This announcement follows China’s successful mediation efforts in March, which resulted in the reestablishment of relations between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia. 

Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin further highlighted the significance of Abbas’s visit during a routine press briefing. He said, “As the first Arab state leader to visit China this year, President Abbas’s visit illustrates the strength of the traditionally friendly ties between China and Palestine.” 

Wang referred to Abbas as an “old and good friend of the Chinese people” and emphasized China’s staunch support for the Palestinians’ just cause of reclaiming their rightful national rights. 

China’s proactive outreach to the Middle East and its challenge to the long-established US influence in the region have been met with criticisms from Washington. During an Arab outreach visit last December, President Xi met with Abbas and committed to “strive for an early, just, and lasting solution to the Palestinian problem.” 

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In response to China’s assertiveness, US State Secretary Antony Blinken, during his visit to Riyadh this week, reassured Saudi Arabia that it wouldn’t have to choose between Washington and Beijing, an attempt to reduce the existing tensions. 

Blinken also urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to refrain from jeopardizing the chances of establishing a Palestinian state amidst his efforts to mediate Israel-Palestinian tensions. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been at a standstill since 2014. 

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang expressed to his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts in April that China is ready to assist in peace negotiations, as reported by Xinhua. Emphasizing China’s push for a “two-state solution”, Qin expressed support for the swift resumption of talks to Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki. 

Qin concluded, “The Palestinian issue lies at the heart of the Middle East conflict. Its resolution has a significant bearing on Middle East peace, stability, and international fairness and justice.” 

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