China’s Xi Jinping backs ‘just cause’ of Palestinian statehood

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to Beijing comes as China stakes out a greater role in the Middle East to counter US influence.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas talks to China's President Xi Jinping after a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China June 14, 2023
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on June 14, 2023, at the start of a three-day visit to China [Jade Goa via Reuters]

President Xi Jinping says China backs the Palestinian struggle for statehood as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrived for a three-day visit.

The Palestinian leader was welcomed with full military honours at the Great Hall of the People on Wednesday in Beijing.

“We are good friends and partners,” Xi told Abbas at the start of their meeting. “We have always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights.”

Xi made the comments as China stakes out a greater role in the Middle East to edge out the United States’s influence there while seeking to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

A solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in the establishment of an “independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital”, Xi was quoted as saying by Chinese state media – reiterating a 1967 UN Security Council resolution that Israel rejects.

Abbas said his administration was “looking forward to strengthening cooperation with China” and securing investment.

“We especially appreciate the Chinese side’s commitment to financing a number of development projects presented by Palestine. We wish the speedy dispatch of technical delegations to implement these projects,” Abbas said.

‘Just and durable solution’

Xi called China’s “strategic partnership” with Palestine an “important milestone in the history of bilateral relations”.

Beijing has long maintained diplomatic ties with the Palestinian Authority and since Abbas’s last visit in 2017 has talked up its ability to mediate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have been stalled since 2014.

Beijing has sought to bolster its influence in the Middle East, helping broker a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran in March, while challenging longstanding American sway in the region.

Xi travelled to Saudi Arabia in December for the first China-Arab States Summit. He also met Abbas and promised to “work for an early, just and durable solution to the Palestinian issue”.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, meanwhile, was in Beijing in February – the first Iranian leader to visit China in 30 years.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies