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Gaza: Xi Jinping calls for a Middle East ‘peace conference’

Gaza: Xi Jinping calls for a Middle East ‘peace conference’

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: A week after threatening democracy in Taiwan and conducting its biggest military drill ever around the self-ruled island nation, China’s President-for-Life Xi Jinping on Thursday called for an ‘international peace conference’ in the Middle East which, he said, is ‘suffering tremendously’ amid the ongoing Gaza War.

Addressing a Beijing Summit attended by the Heads of State from Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain, and Tunisia, among others, he called on Arab states to deepen cooperation with China in areas like trade, clean energy, space exploration, and healthcare.

Calling for a peace meeting focused on the Israel-Hamas war, he promised more humanitarian aid.

“As war is raging causing tremendous suffering, justice can’t be absent and the two-state solution can’t be shaken,” Xi said in a speech opening the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum.

The summit was set to focus on China’s expanding trade ties and on security concerns related to the Israel-Hamas war, the media reported.

Beijing and the Arab states back the Palestinians in the conflict, where Israel is facing growing international condemnation after the strike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The overall Palestinian death toll in the war exceeds 36,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Beijing has long backed the Palestinians and denounced Israel over its settlements in the occupied territories. It has not criticized the initial Hamas attack on October 7, 2023 — which killed about 1,200 people — while the United States and others have called it an act of terrorism. However, China does have growing economic ties with Israel.

China wants to present itself as an alternative to the West and a more credible partner to the Middle East, one that doesn’t interfere in the nations’ domestic affairs nor exert pressure, the reports said.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who met Xi on Wednesday, signed with him a series of cooperation agreements in areas such as infrastructure, technology, and food imports meant to further their countries’ ties.

China has invested billions of dollars in Egyptian state projects, including a Suez Canal economic zone and a new administrative capital east of Cairo. Investments between Egypt and China amounted to around USD 14 billion in 2023, compared to USD 16.6 billion in 2022, according to Egypt’s statistics agency.

Also at the forum are Tunisia’s President Kais Saied, Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s King Hamad.

The China-Arab States Cooperation Forum was established in 2004 as a formal dialogue mechanism between China and Arab states.

China is Tunisia’s fourth-largest trading partner after Germany, Italy and France. Beijing has financed hospitals and sports complexes in Tunisia, and its companies have been contracted to build strategic infrastructure such as bridges and deep-water Mediterranean ports.


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