As a ‘rising power’, China is expected to play a greater global role. But current Chinese involvement in the long-running and internationalised Arab-Israeli conflict is limited. How to explain this? What does it suggest about China’s regional and global role? Studying Beijing’s involvement since the 1950s, I note Chinese military assistance to the Palestinians during the 1960s-70s and strong criticism of Israel. But from the 1980s Beijing adopted a more diplomatic approach and endorsed the two-state solution. The change was due to China’s broader regional and international relations. During the Cold War Beijing’s ‘active’ pro-Palestinian stance was associated with being ‘outside’ the superpower-dominated international system. By the end of the Cold War Beijing was ‘inside’ the international system and increasingly integrated into the global economy. Commercial considerations trumped political ones, emphasising diplomacy. This suggests China’s exercise of global power may be more nuanced and less overt than otherwise assumed.
Since the early 2010s, there have been mounting calls in China to intensify its role in the Middle East. But seeing the region as highly turbulent, Beijing seems to restrain its political involvement there. So what role does China actually strive for in the Middle East? To answer this question, the article first presents China’s discourse on its future role in the region; next, it analyzes China’s involvement in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the Syrian civil war, focusing on three diplomatic initiatives it has made concerning these issues. The argument here is that China strives to be part of major processes in the Middle East and attempts to advance its values and interests there, but in a unique pattern of big-power involvement in the region, it tries to achieve this without intensive investment of political, economic, and military resources.
The purpose of this article is trying to answer the following question: What else a State needs to consider, besides its international legal obligations, when developing its foreign policy? I hope to demonstrate how factors such as religion and realism affect a country’s foreign policy by using the case of Israeli-Palestinian conflict and China’s interactions with the two nations. China successfully adapt realistic attitude in making its middle-east policy. It supported Palestine for the ideology of anti-imperialism, but established relation with Israel for the need of national interest. In this article, I would give a general introduction of the history of China’s relation with Palestine and Israel, including several key incidents that carry great significance in this triangular relationship. Through my introduction, I hope to demonstrate how religion and realism affects a nation’s foreign policies, as well as international law. I would discuss China’s involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of international relations. First, I will focus on the changes and evolvements of China’s relationships with Palestine and Israel throughout history, and briefly discuss what China has done in the past with the two countries. Second, I will introduce how Chinese society views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the end, proposals will be made for China’s future policy in the region.
Although studies on China’s Middle East policy frequently separate Israel from the rest of the region, Beijing has always been aware of regional contradictions and tried to navigate between the two sides it perceived as interconnected. China’s attempts to adopt a balanced relationship with both sides in the 1950s were later replaced by a zero-sum game policy in which Israel was totally excluded. Since the 1980s Beijing has resurrected its balanced Middle East policy. While still sticking to nonintervention in regional conflicts, the Chinese implicitly offer their own experience of using economic means to overcome sociopolitical tensions.