Hayward: China Seeks to Fill Joe Biden-Shaped Leadership Void on Israel

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Chinese state media on Sunday and Monday unleashed a blizzard of editorials portraying Beijing as the most important world power in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stepping forward to fill the leadership vacuum created by President Joe Biden at the United Nations.

Palestinian terrorists from Hamas began launching rocket barrages at Israeli cities last week, sending Israeli families scrambling for shelter as the Iron Dome missile defense system went into action. Israel retaliated with airstrikes against Hamas leaders and positions, sending warning messages to civilians in the area before each strike.

China’s state-run Global Times on Sunday lectured the Western world, and many Arab countries, for supposedly abandoning the Palestinians. China literally enslaves Muslims, but somehow the Global Times turned the Gaza conflict into a lecture about Islamophobia in the United States:

Perhaps there is a logic that Israel wants to emphasize in each of its strikes against Hamas. But it is clear that their counterattacks have gone too far, because most of the consequences of their punishment of Hamas have been borne by Palestinian civilians. And it is reasonable to assume that this disproportionate punishment is done to intimidate all Palestinians, destroy their will to fight back and force them to accept Israel’s arbitrary handling of affairs in its occupied territories in violation of UN resolutions.

The Palestine issue mirrors the US’ attitude toward Muslims most precisely. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is taking place in the heart of an area where the history of Western and Islamic civilizations overlaps, and Israel’s encroachment on East Jerusalem is unlikely to be accepted by the wider Islamic world. Even if some Islamic countries temporarily have softened their attitudes due to realistic political considerations, the boycott will continue in the Islamic civil society. The US promotes Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, but it will always stand by Israel as long as it has to choose between the two. Washington has consistently condemned attacks on Israeli targets by Hamas and other organizations, while it keeps downplaying Israel’s massive strikes on Palestinian targets that have caused disproportionate casualties. It shows how hypocritical the US is.

“The U.S. is the only country that can truly influence Israel, but its ability to restrain Israel’s behavior is obviously not enough considering Israel’s suppression and discrimination against the Palestinians,” the Global Times sniffed.

This line of attack is an extension of the strategy China used to such great effect against Biden’s hapless State Department team in Alaska: using the rhetoric of the American Left against them to claim the U.S. has no moral standing to criticize Chinese human rights violations. 

Another Global Times editorial on Sunday pushed that narrative even harder, castigating the United States for protecting Israel from criticism at the U.N. Security Council, which China temporarily presides over.

“Regrettably, the council has so far failed to reach an agreement, with the U.S. standing on the opposite side of international justice,” the article quoted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying.

The Global Times suggested both the Israelis and Palestinians see Wang as a much more important mediator than anyone from the Biden administration. Chinese analysts quoted in the piece lashed out at the U.S. for giving Israel a pass on the “horrific human rights disaster” in Gaza when it hypocritically claims to prioritize “human rights” when “interfering in other countries’ internal affairs.”

Not even the Chinese state paper could completely ignore that Palestinian terrorists struck the first blow, but it excoriated Israel for supposedly striking back too hard. As for China’s supposed leadership as a peacemaker, the Global Times could only quote Foreign Minister Wang urging all parties to return to negotiations for a “two-state solution” – the same thing virtually every foreign leader and diplomat has said for decades after every outbreak of violence in Gaza.

On Monday, China’s Xinhua news service touted Wang’s “four-point proposal regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict” at the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Sunday. 

Point 1 was a call for both sides to “immediately stop military and hostile actions, and stop actions that deteriorate the situation, including airstrikes, ground offensives, and rocket launches,” with the addendum that “Israel must exercise restraint in particular.” 

Wang did not explain why the Palestinians, the side that keeps firing swarms of indiscriminate missiles at civilian targets, and would likely have killed thousands of civilians if not for the high quality of Israel’s missile defenses, did not need to “exercise restraint in particular.”

Wang’s Point 2 was a demand for “humanitarian assistance,” including Israel lifting its “blockade and siege of Gaza as soon as possible.” Points 3 and 4 were simply a reiteration of the need for negotiations on a “two-state solution” to resume as soon as possible.

“China calls on the United States to shoulder its due responsibilities, adopt a fair stand, and support the UNSC in playing its due role in easing the situation, rebuilding trust, and political settlement,” Wang said.

“China will continue to intensify efforts to promote peace talks, and fulfill its duties as the rotating presidency of the UNSC,” he added.

According to Xinhua, attendees at the Security Council meeting “thanked China for chairing the event, and called for an immediate ceasefire and cessation of violence between Israel and Palestine, as well as cooling down of the situation while abiding by relevant UNSC resolutions and international laws.”

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Monday saw China’s offer to host Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as a “bid to expand its influence in the Middle East as the new administration in Washington works out its playbook.”

“In the past, China has always called for a ceasefire, but it rarely mentions how and who would provide the platform for negotiations. Because China is now positioning itself as a global power, it needs to take up the responsibilities of a major power, so it cannot be absent on hot global issues,” Li Weijian of the Chinese Association of Middle East Studies told the SCMP. 

The Palestinians are evidently happy to see China step into the ring on their side in the conflict.

As with other China-friendly Arab powers,  Palestinian Fatah official Abbas Zaki had nothing to say about China’s abuse of the Uyghur Muslims in a Monday interview with Xinhua, instead praising the “outstanding leadership capability” of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as evidenced by China’s rapid industrial advancement over the past few decades, and applauded the CCP as “a political party that pursues the spirit of openness and is willing to conduct dialogue and exchanges with political parties of different types around the world.

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