The world must “act urgently” to contain the conflict in Gaza, China’s top diplomat said on Monday (20), during a meeting with officials from Arab and Muslim-majority nations.
The statement comes as Beijing steps up its efforts to play a role in establishing a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi welcomed his counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Indonesia, as well as the head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for a two-day visit to the Chinese capital.
“The international community must act urgently, taking effective measures to prevent this tragedy from spreading, Wang told visiting leaders in opening remarks before the meetings.
“China firmly defends justice and impartiality in this conflict,” he added.
The visiting ministers expressed their own strong calls for an end to the conflict, with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
“The message is clear: the war must stop immediately, we must move towards a ceasefire immediately and relief materials and aid must come in immediately,” he said.
The countries represented hope to cooperate with China and “all countries” that are “responsible and note the seriousness of the situation,” he said.
Israel launched weeks of bombing and ground operations in the Hamas-ruled territory of Gaza following a surprise attack by the group on October 7. More than 200 hostages were taken in that attack, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The meeting in Beijing comes as sources tell the CNN that a possible agreement to secure the release of some hostages held by Hamas and a multi-day pause in fighting may be in sight, after weeks of negotiations between the United States, Israel and the militant group – mediated by Qatar.
Beijing has been at odds with Washington – an Israeli ally and long a key power broker in the region – over its approach to the conflict.
The disagreement involves the issue of an immediate ceasefire, which Washington does not support.
Beijing also criticized Israel’s retaliation and did not condemn Hamas or name the group in its statements, provoking reactions from Israeli authorities.
“Israel should stop collective punishment of the people of Gaza and open a humanitarian corridor as soon as possible to prevent a larger-scale humanitarian crisis from occurring,” Wang said.
Israel firmly defended its actions as eradicating terrorism after a “barbaric invasion” and rejected any ceasefire without the release of hostages.
China’s struggle for peace
China has attempted to play an active role in seeking a solution to the conflict as it seeks to expand its position as a major global power.
Beijing sent a peace envoy to visit several countries in the region last month and has acted as a strong voice pushing for an immediate ceasefire at the United Nations, including the Security Council, where China now holds the rotating presidency.
Last week, the UN body approved its first resolution on the conflict, which called for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas and the extension of humanitarian corridors across the enclave to protect civilians.
The US and UK abstained, citing the resolution’s failure to condemn Hamas.
“For reasons known to everyone, in particular the repeated and persistent obstruction of a permanent member of the Council, this resolution can only serve as a first step based on a minimum consensus,” said Chinese ambassador Zhang Jun after the vote.
This Monday in Beijing, the Saudi Arabian minister praised the decision of the Security Council, under the leadership of China.
The conflict also gave China the opportunity to reinforce its already strengthened ties with several countries in the Arab world.
“We have always firmly defended the legitimate rights and interests of Arab and Muslim countries and have always firmly supported the efforts of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights and interests,” Wang told the visiting delegation.
*CNN’s Xiaofei Xu, Martin Goillandeau, Mengchen Zhang and Sophie Jeong contributed to this report
Source: CNN Brasil
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