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China Not be Ready for Primetime Mideast Mediation But Will Still Benefit From War’s Politics, Say Experts

Smoke plumes billow during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on October 12, 2023. MAHMUD HAMS / AFP

China’s evolving position on the war between Israel and Hamas provoked considerable discussion over the weekend from leading scholars and analysts around the world:

  • PARALYSISFor a while at least, Beijing’s Middle East policy is paralyzed by the war. The U.S., which strongly supports Israel, is directly or indirectly involved. Who is there to listen to China?” — Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at Renmin University (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
  • SILENCE: “You cannot be neutral in something like this. Silence is acquiescence. The problem, I think, the biggest one we have, is that China, instead of being the responsible major power that it claims to be, is exploiting this conflict for geopolitical benefits” — researcher at the Israel-China Policy Center at the Institute for National Security Studies (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
  • LIMITATIONS: “Before the Hamas-Israel conflict outbreak, China tried to present itself as a mediator in conflicts in the Middle East. Its weak response may expose its limited regional influence and undermine its honest broker image” — Mordechai Chaziza, senior lecturer at Ashkelon Academic College (NATIONAL INTEREST)
  • ALTERNATIVES: “China is trying to promote alternative norms in global politics, and China sees Arab states as a natural constituency for China to try to attract. By appealing to Arab countries, they’ll get more support for the reforms they want to push through in the international system” –– Jonathan Fulton, a senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council (AXIOS)
  • STABILITY: “This is what the Chinese always try to do. They know they will be playing a greater role in this region, they want stability, but at the same time they don’t want to be sucked into the complexities of it” — Moritz Rudolf, fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center (FINANCIAL TIMES)


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