BEIJING (AP) — China’s top diplomat welcomed four Arab foreign ministers and the Indonesian one to Beijing on Monday, saying his country would work with “our brothers and sisters" in the Arab and Islamic world to try to end the war in Gaza as soon as possible.
The ministers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Indonesia chose to start in Beijing a tour to permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, a testament to both China's growing geopolitical influence and its longstanding support for the Palestinians.
The tour aims to push for a cease-fire and propel the political process forward with the goal of lasting peace.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the foreign diplomats that their decision to start in Beijing shows their high level of trust in his nation.
“China is a good friend and brother of Arab and Islamic countries,” Wang said in opening remarks at a state guest house before their talks began. “We have always firmly safeguarded the legitimate rights and interests of Arab (and) Islamic countries and have always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people.”
China has long backed the Palestinians and been quick to denounce Israel over its settlements in the occupied territories. It has not criticized the initial Hamas attack on Oct.7 — which killed about 1,200 people — while the United States and others have called it an act of terrorism.
The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, called for an immediate cease-fire and the entry of humanitarian aid and relief to the Gaza Strip.
China — the world’s second-largest economy after the U.S. — has become increasingly outspoken on international affairs and even gotten directly involved in some recently, albeit cautiously.
In March, Beijing helped broker an agreement that saw Saudi Arabia and Iran reestablish ties after seven years of tension in a role previously reserved for longtime global heavyweights like the U.S. and Russia.
Israel’s ambassador to China, Irit Ben-Abba, said Monday, that her country is allowing sufficient humanitarian aid into Gaza in collaboration with international organizations and that “putting pressure on Israel in this regard is politically motivated and is not conducive to the humanitarian assistance which is needed.”
She also said that they hoped for “no one-sided” resolution by the Security Council and that they expected a clear statement calling for the “unconditional release of the 240 hostages" who were abducted by Hamas during its attacks, “rather than calling for a cease-fire.”