Palestinian President Abbas begins China visit as Beijing seeks larger role in Mideast

AP , Ahram Online , Tuesday 13 Jun 2023

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas began a visit to China on Tuesday that comes as Beijing is seeking a larger role in Middle East politics.

China Palestine
File photo: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, shakes hands after presenting a medallion to Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, July 18, 2017. REUTERS


In announcing the visit, China’s Foreign Ministry said Beijing was willing to help broker relations between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government that have deteriorated to the lowest level in recent years.

Calling Abbas an "old and good friend" of the Chinese people, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin noted that the Palestinian president would be the first Arab head of state to be hosted by China this year.

During his four-day visit, the Palestinian president will meet with Chinese counterpart Xi Jiping, hte Palestinian news agency WAFA said.

The President is also set to meet with a number of senior Chinese officials, WAFA added.

China-Palestine relations have maintained a good momentum of growth with stronger political mutual trust and deeper friendship between the two peoples, Wang added. 

In April, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang told his Palestinian counterpart that his country is willing to aid peace negotiations, which have been stalled since 2014.

State broadcaster CCTV quoted Gang as saying that "China supports the resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel as soon as possible on the basis of the ‘two-state solution,’ and is willing to play an active role in this regard."

Increased Israeli attacks against the Palestinians in the West Bank has resulted in the deadliest period of violence in years in that territory.

The visit is seen as a sign of China’s ongoing effort to increase its influence in the Middle East at a time when the US has refocused its attention on the Indo-Pacific region and Ukraine. 

Abbas's visit comes shortly after China hosted talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia that resulted in the two restoring diplomatic relations.

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