Politics & News

China-Arab States Cooperation Forum: Gaza War, Trade Dominate Talks

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed Beijing’s desire to enhance cooperation with Arab states to address issues of global concern.

At the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing, Xi touched upon the war in Gaza, reiterating calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. He also outlined a range of areas where China can strengthen cooperation with Arab nation.

Gaza War

The summit was attended by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, United Arab Emirates President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and Tunisian President Kais Saied, who are in China for state visits. Furthermore, foreign ministers and delegations from 22 Arab states joined the event, according to CNN.

China-Arab States Cooperation Forum: Gaza War, Trade Dominate Talks
Arab leaders at the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum

The Chinese President delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 10th ministerial conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum on Thursday.

Xi denounced the “tremendous suffering” in the Middle East. He said: “Since last October, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has escalated drastically, throwing the people into tremendous sufferings. War should not continue indefinitely. Justice should not be absent forever.”

The Chinese President promised additional 500 million yuan ($69 million) in humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza. He also pledged $3 million donation to the UNRWA to support humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

Two-State Solution

Xi stressed China’s commitment to the two-state solution, and called for an international peace conference. He said: “Commitment to the two-State solution should not be wavered at will. China firmly supports the establishment of an independent State of Palestine that enjoys full sovereignty based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

China “supports Palestine’s full membership in the UN, and supports a more broad-based, authoritative and effective international peace conference,” Xi added.

Beijing has long backed Palestinians and denounced Israel over its settlements in the occupied territories. Although China has growing economic ties with Israel, Beijing and Arab nations back the Palestinians in the ongoing war in Gaza, which has killed over 36,000 Palestinians so far, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

New Era

In his speech, Xi hailed the Chinese-Arab relations, saying that Beijing is eager to further cooperate with Arab states “in the spirit of inclusiveness and mutual learning” on several areas, including trade, clean energy, space exploration and health care.

The Chinese President said: “Building a China-Arab community with a shared future is a strong statement of our common desire for a new era of China-Arab relations and a better future for the world. China will work with the Arab side as good partners to make our relations a model for maintaining world peace and stability. In this turbulent world, peaceful relations come from mutual respect, and lasting security is built on fairness and justice.”

“In this interdependent world, we will further synergize development strategies with the Arab side. We will strengthen cooperation in key areas such as oil, gas, trade and infrastructure, step up fostering new growth areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), investment, financing and new energy, and embark together on an innovative and green path to prosperity,” he added.

Xi said that China will work with Arab nations to promote good global governance. “We are ready to work with the Arab side to jointly champion an equal and orderly multipolar world and a universally beneficial and inclusive economic globalization, and set a model of South-South cooperation on global governance.”

Saudi Participation

The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, arrived in Beijing to participate in the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. In his speech, he stressed the Forum’s pivotal role as a basis for cooperation between Arab nations and China, built on mutual respect for sovereignty and independence.

Prince Faisal said: “The Forum’s cooperation mechanisms, programs and various activities over the years have exemplified the principles of the UN Charter, to achieve a world of peace, security, prosperity and progress.”

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the first Arab-China summit in 2022, and the successful visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Riyadh, marked a historic turning point in Saudi-Chinese cooperation.

Praising Chinese Efforts

The Saudi Foreign Minister expressed appreciation for China’s consistent support for ending the war in Gaza and achieving the two-state solution. He reiterated the urgency of an immediate and permanent ceasefire, ensuring a steady flow of humanitarian aid, and charting a clear and irreversible path towards the two-state solution.

To this end, Prince Faisal stressed the importance of ongoing dialogue and consultation to address regional issues peacefully and politically. He emphasized the need to maintain the unity and territorial integrity of Arab nations and reject foreign interference in Arab affairs.

China-Arab States Cooperation Forum: Gaza War, Trade Dominate Talks
Saudi Foreign Minister attending the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum

Additionally, he underscored the urgency of continuing international efforts to combat climate change, commending Arab nations national climate plans. He highlighted Saudi Arabia’s proactive approach to address climate change impacts by launching the Middle East Green Initiative and the Saudi Green Initiative.

During the Forum, Prince Faisal will explore ways to strengthen cooperation between Arab states and China in various fields, and the importance of multilateral coordination on issues of mutual concern. Moreover, the Saudi Foreign Minister will hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Forum.

Beijing’s Ambitions

The China-Arab States Cooperation Forum was established in 2004 as a formal dialogue mechanism between China and Arab states. It is part of China’s endeavors to strengthen ties with the Arab states.

The 10th ministerial meeting is the first such gathering since China held its first joint summit with Arab leaders in late 2022 in Saudi Arabia. During his speech, Xi announced that China will host the second China-Arab States Summit in 2026, which will be another milestone in China-Arab relations.

China-Arab States Cooperation Forum: Gaza War, Trade Dominate Talks
Xi Jinping and Arab leaders at the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum

Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Washington-based Stimson Center, told CNN that China “wants to demonstrate leadership, consolidate ties, and call for ceasefire (in Gaza). It wants to be a particularly strong leader on this issue, at least rhetorically.”

She added that Beijing “has chosen to side with Palestine and the Arab countries. The choice is deliberate as it does suggest a desire to align with Arab countries, and the Global South. But China didn’t create the crisis. It only capitalized on it.”

In this regard, Maria Papageorgiou, a lecturer in politics and international relations at University of Exeter, said: “China’s priorities in the region are primarily economic.”

She added: “It wants to continue the momentum established in recent years with Gulf states and expand its investments, particularly in trade, technology (5G networks), and other cyber initiatives.”

Moreover, China wants to present itself as an alternative to the West and a more credible partner to the region, one that doesn’t interfere in the nations’ domestic affairs nor exert pressure, Papageorgiou told the Associated Press (AP).

Short link :

Related Stories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button