The Aspiration for Tranquility Originates from China

As a nation that has endured the trials of colonization, China finds common ground with numerous countries in the Middle East, particularly Palestine.

The conflict between Israel and the Hamas faction in Gaza remains unresolved. Now marking its 100th day, Israel’s assault on Gaza has resulted in the tragic loss of 24,000 Palestinian lives. With a total population of 2.3 million, a staggering 85% of Gaza’s inhabitants are compelled to live as refugees, battling the harsh realities of hunger. Despite the United Nations’ (UN) three attempts to establish a ceasefire through resolutions, the United States has consistently vetoed these efforts. The US continues to staunchly back Israel, even contributing to the funding of its military.

Simultaneously, the international community’s denunciation of these actions is intensifying. South Africa has lodged a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing it of perpetrating genocide against the Palestinian people. Boycotts against products associated with or supporting Israel are on the rise, with significant repercussions.

In contrast to the stance of the United States and Western nations, China presents an intriguing alternative. From the onset of the conflict, China has consistently advocated for a two-state solution and non-intervention. China positions itself as a mediator, striving to resolve the conflict or, at the very least, establish conditions conducive to a ceasefire.

In a parallel meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on March 7, 2024, China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, declared, “We support Palestine in becoming a full member of the United Nations and urge every member of the Security Council not to pose an obstacle.” This statement underscores China’s commitment to a peaceful resolution and its willingness to challenge the status quo.

Strong historical capital

As a nation that has endured the trials of colonization, China finds common ground with numerous countries in the Middle East, particularly Palestine. There is an absence of historical evidence to suggest any past transgressions by China in these regions. From the era of Mao Zedong, China has steadfastly championed the fight against imperialism, a stance that remains unaltered to this day.

China’s stance is not limited to the Israel-Palestine conflict. It has consistently demonstrated its position towards the Taliban, even during the period of American occupation and conflict in Afghanistan. China has explicitly attributed the unfolding events to the actions of the United States. It is crucial to acknowledge China’s significant role as a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran in 2023, amidst the backdrop of heavy sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States and the latter’s support for Saudi-launched warfare in Yemen.

According to findings from the Merics Think Tank, China has played a role in resolving nine conflicts from 2013 to 2018, including those in South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Myanmar.

China’s diplomatic approach can be traced back to the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence”. These principles encompass mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, joint non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. By adhering to these principles, China has successfully established itself as a pivotal player in resolving global conflicts. This commitment underscores China’s dedication to global peace and stability and highlights its effectiveness as a mediator in international conflict resolution.

Skepticism from the experts

China’s endeavors towards peace and reconciliation have been met with skepticism by certain scholars. Professor Simon Mabon, a Middle Eastern politics specialist at Lancaster University, posits that China leverages reconciliation as a tool to bolster authoritarianism and stifle reform. In contrast, Jo Inge Bekkevold, an East Asian studies analyst and diplomat, suggests that China’s peace initiatives form part of their long-term strategy in the “Global South”, potentially utilizing peaceful nations as military bases. These perspectives collectively suggest that China employs diplomacy to fulfill their political and strategic objectives.

Meanwhile, Professor Stephen Walt, a leading thinker in contemporary international relations, has openly identified the United States as the primary instigator of the Israel-Palestine conflict. He contends that this conflict is a manifestation of the United States’ strategic failure to effectively address Iran, a nation whose power has surged following the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The intimate ties between Hamas and Tehran are now widely recognized.

Establishing a Novel Paradigm?

China is not merely a mediator; it is a visionary, offering innovative ideas and concepts to the global stage. In 2022, President Xi Jinping unveiled a groundbreaking concept known as the Global Security Initiative (GSI) on Hainan Island. The GSI’s primary objective is to establish a more equitable global structure, deeply rooted in China’s distinctive thought and values.

The GSI underscores the primacy of political solutions over legal mechanisms and international norms. It advocates for direct dialogue and forums as the most effective means of resolution. Furthermore, it emphasizes the cardinal principle of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other nations.

The GSI aligns with the Global Development Initiative (GDI), launched in September 2021. The GDI posits that “security” is a prerequisite for development, and conversely, development is the bedrock of security. This symbiotic relationship can be encapsulated in the phrase “peace through development.”

China’s foreign policy is a testament to its strategic acumen and careful planning. By harnessing its significant appeal and capabilities, China is reshaping international dynamics. Its primary goal is to foster conflict resolution through diplomatic means, eschewing aggression or confrontation.

China recognizes its international influence as a potent tool for conflict resolution. Consequently, it is committed to leveraging this influence in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

For China, the path to security lies in a shared vision of development among all parties. Viewed through a narrower lens, development emerges as the panacea for all challenges.

Gufron Gozali
Gufron Gozali
Gufron Gozali is a junior research assistant from the Islamic University of Indonesia, whose research focuses on the United States and the Middle East.