China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it was “seriously concerned” about violence in the Gaza Strip and called for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as soon as possible.
An editorial in the state-run Global Times blamed U.S. President Donald Trump for “opening Pandora’s box” by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
“We have called on both Israel and Palestine, especially the Israeli side, to keep restraint to avoid further escalation of tensions,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, as quoted by China Xinhua news service.
“The Chinese side holds that in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, peace talks between Palestine and Israel should be resumed as soon as possible and the final status of Jerusalem should be settled through dialogues,” he said.
According to Xinhua, the Foreign Ministry spokesman stated that China “supports the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights, and supports the establishment of a fully sovereign, independent State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
The Global Times blamed Trump for igniting the Gaza crisis by keeping a campaign promise no one expected him to keep:
Donald Trump pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem during his 2016 presidential campaign, but nobody took him seriously. Even when Washington recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital last year, many conjectured that the White House might postpone the embassy relocation. But now the US president really fulfilled his promise.
There seems to be no clear logic behind the Jerusalem move. The relocation will for sure enrage Palestinians and offend the Arab public, and may even trigger a new uprising in Palestine. Washington seems to be making trouble out of nothing.
But Trump is not that illogical. His reckless behavior and devil-may-care campaign pledges reflect his smug confidence in Washington’s strength. Trump believes that former presidents of the US haven’t fully exploited the country’s strength. He can take advantage of Washington’s comprehensive strength to forcibly create new realities. Dissatisfaction in the outside world cannot obstruct the implementation of his tough policies.
Trump is apparently confident that angry Palestinians cannot make waves and that dissatisfaction among Arab countries won’t be transformed into resistance against the US, especially as conflicts between Iran and Sunni-dominated Arab countries are more acute than those between Israel and Palestine in the Middle East. Israel also shares a common stance with Sunni states on the Iran issue.
The story does not note that almost every recent American president, including Barack Obama, promised to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or at least acknowledged that it should be there.
Contrary to the Global Times’ assertion, it was not an illogical promise but, rather, based on the highly reasoned assertion that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel so foreign embassies should be located there. China’s lack of support for this point stands in contrast to how sensitive China is to anything it sees as challenging its own territorial claims, no matter how frivolous or inadvertent the challenge.
The rest of the editorial is devoted to complaining that Trump is a brute who thinks “strength means everything,” so he “attaches more importance to reviving the American economy and increasing the defense budget than soft power.”