On December 21, 128 out of 193 United Nations member states voted for a motion that rejects U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In sharp contrast, only nine member states, including the United States and Israel, were against it, while 35 countries abstained and another 21 delegations were absent from the vote. Although the resolution is a non-binding one, the resounding result shows the increasingly jeopardized status for the United States as a world leader under the Trump’s administration.
Against the backdrop, China has been actively attempting to take a bigger role in resolving the Palestine-Israel issue.
When pressed on whether China aims to replace the United States as a mediator for the peace process at the regular press briefing on December 21, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying didn’t deny it. She said:
China’s position on the Palestine issue is consistent. We support and actively promote the Middle East peace process. We support the just cause of the Palestinian people to regain their legitimate national rights… We are willing to continue offering constructive assistance to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
In fact, China has already taken some substantial measures to do so.
From December 21 to 22, China hosted a symposium for Palestinian and Israeli peace advocates in Beijing.
China had already held two such symposiums in Beijing and Jerusalem in 2006 and 2003, respectively. The latest one is the first organized under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration.
According to Hua, China hoped that the symposium will “serve as a platform for communication and interaction between the Palestinian and Israeli peace advocates in a demonstration of the hope for peace.”
Hua also revealed that “Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Ahmed Majdalani, and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset [the Israeli parliament] and head of the lobby for the two-state solution, Yehiel Bar, would head delegations to attend the symposium.”
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with the participants and Chen Xiaodong, assistant foreign minister, will address the opening ceremony, she added.
Hours ahead of the latest UN vote, Wang himself reiterated China’s position on the Palestine-Israel issue in an interview with China’s national TV station, CCTV. He claimed that it is “a historical tragedy” that the Palestinians still do not have their state after the United Nations passed the resolution on Palestine and Israel 70 years ago.
He also urged all “responsible countries” to speak in a common voice to solve the issue. Apparently, the United States is not included in the category of those “responsible countries” based on Wang’s tone.