As the first Arab head of state hosted by China this year, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wrapped up his four-day state visit to China on Friday. His visit testifies to China’s commitment to further enhancing its relations with Arab countries, particularly since it brokered the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran in March.
Arab analysts hold that China’s peace-oriented diplomatic efforts and increased practical cooperation with Arab countries will contribute to restoring peace and prosperity in the Middle East.
During their talks in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Abbas announced the establishment of a strategic partnership between China and Palestine.
Hailing China as a trustworthy friend and partner, Abbas, on behalf of the Palestinian people, thanked China for its long-term strong support and selfless assistance for the Palestinian people’s just cause of restoring their legitimate national rights.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of China-Palestine diplomatic relations. China is among the first countries to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine. Over the past 35 years, China has spoken out for Palestine on international occasions and continued providing humanitarian and development assistance to Palestine.
Nowadays, under the guidance of the two presidents, China-Palestine relations have maintained a good momentum, featuring solid political mutual trust.
Abbas said Palestine supports China’s position on issues concerning its core interests and follows the one-China principle, adding that Palestine will work with China to promote the Belt and Road Initiative, strengthen bilateral cooperation and build a community with a shared future for humanity.
Describing China and Palestine as “friends closer than brothers,” Abbas Zaki, a Palestinian Fatah Central Committee member and commissioner for relations with Arab countries and China, said that China firmly supports the cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate rights and establish an independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital and based on 1967 borders.
Omar Awadallah, an aide to the Palestinian foreign minister, told Xinhua that during the past 35 years, China’s firm support for the just cause of the Palestinian people has never wavered.
“China now is a basic partner for countries of the world, especially Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. Therefore, strengthening Palestine-China relations will help and contribute to mobilizing international support for the Palestinian cause in all forums,” said Mazen Shamieh, former assistant minister for the Palestinian Foreign Ministry.
Experts believe that Abbas’s visit, also the first by an Arab head of state to China after the first China-Arab States Summit in December, will accelerate the implementation of the summit’s outcomes.
During the summit held in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, three significant outcome documents were issued, and eight major cooperation initiatives were proposed, drawing up a blueprint for deepening cooperation between the two sides.
As a result of the summit, the 10th Arab-China Business Conference took place in Riyadh earlier this month. During the conference’s opening ceremony, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said that Arab countries were glad for the achievements in their partnership with China.
“China is the largest trading partner of Arab countries, and the volume of trade exchange between the two sides reached 430 billion U.S. dollars in 2022, a 31-percent increase from 2021,” the minister said.
In recent years, China has signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with 21 Arab countries and the Arab League. Together, they have implemented more than 200 large-scale cooperation projects in various fields including energy and infrastructure. Such cooperation has benefited nearly 2 billion people.
“The Chinese initiatives are very important for paving the way for stability in the Middle East. Economic development will lead to political stability,” said Abdel Mohdy Motawe, an expert in Palestinian affairs and researcher with the Cairo-based Middle East Forum for Strategic Studies and National Security.
Samer Khair Ahmed, a Jordanian writer and expert on Arab-China relations, told Xinhua that after the first China-Arab States Summit, relations between both sides have been lifted to a new level, and that President Abbas’s visit again reflects the importance of relations between Arab countries and China.
During their talks in Beijing, Xi put forward a three-point proposal for the settlement of the Palestinian question. Xi stressed that the Palestinian question has caused great sufferings to the Palestinian people and that justice must be done to Palestine as soon as possible.
China has consistently maintained a fair and distinguished stance on the Palestinian question and the rights of the Palestinian people for many years, said Ahmed, the Jordanian writer.
“I believe that China can make a significant contribution to the peace process, given its vision for resolving conflicts in the world, based on finding fair solutions,” he said. “The Palestinian issue needs this Chinese contribution, which achieves balance and opens up real opportunities for establishing peace.”
The Middle East is witnessing a wave of reconciliations as countries are seeking greater strategic independence, especially after the resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Syria’s return to the Arab League.
Moreover, Abbas said that Palestine backs the Global Security Initiative, the Global Development Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative proposed by President Xi, and speaks highly of the China-mediated talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
In Motawe’s view, “the success of Chinese diplomacy in gathering both Saudi and Iran … is a parameter that the Chinese role now in the Middle East is essential.”
There is growing hope that China play a greater role in settling the Palestinian and Israeli issue, which is of special relevance to the peace and stability in the region, particularly in the Arab community, he added.
Abdulaziz Alshaabani, a Saudi journalist and researcher on China affairs, said that the three China-proposed initiatives concerning security, development, and civilization are important public goods, which provide Chinese wisdom and solutions for tackling security dilemmas, development challenges, and clashes of civilizations.
Source: English News