Global Impact: China’s response to Israel-Gaza war shows how Beijing is firmly aligned with the Global South

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Beijing’s generic condemnation against “ all violence and attacks against civilians” came in contrast with vigorous responses against Hamas in the US, India and most countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

But it was consistent with China’s long-held policy of steering clear of foreign conflicts, as well as most Arabian states’ calls for restraint.


Over 100 trucks at Egypt’s Rafah crossing wait to deliver aid into besieged Gaza Strip

Over 100 trucks at Egypt’s Rafah crossing wait to deliver aid into besieged Gaza Strip

Soon after Israel declared war in Gaza against Hamas, pledging to eliminate the militia that has killed and taken its people and foreigners captive, the Jewish state cut off the Palestinian territory from electricity, food and water while warning of a ground offensive.

The Israeli strikes in the first week, and the order for Gazans to evacuate ahead of an expected ground attack, have prompted Beijing to step up its tone against Israel, with foreign minister Wang Yi saying that Israel’s “ actions have gone beyond self-defence”.
In a call with his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Wang said Tel Aviv should stop its “collective punishment” of Gaza’s civilians, echoing growing calls and protests from the Global South that were sympathetic to Palestinians.

The Global South is a newly ascendant geopolitical entity comprising postcolonial and developing countries – in contrast with traditional Western powers in the northern hemisphere led by the US. The Middle East is a key region in the Global South.


Asia’s Muslim-majority countries rally in support of Palestinians as Middle East conflict mounts

Asia’s Muslim-majority countries rally in support of Palestinians as Middle East conflict mounts

Nonetheless, the Chinese response largely comprised diplomatic calls in the lead-up to a major gathering, the Belt and Road Forum, and President Xi Jinping did not comment publicly until his sideline meetings with country leaders at the event.


Malaysia’s leader condemns Israel over Gaza strikes as thousands attend pro-Palestinian rally

Malaysia’s leader condemns Israel over Gaza strikes as thousands attend pro-Palestinian rally

China’s special envoy to the Middle East, Zhai Jun, began his mission to the region soon after the event and attended a peace conference in Cairo, Egypt, where he said China was ready to “ do anything conducive” to promote dialogue and restore peace in Gaza.
Zhai said that China and Russia – another important player in the Global South – “ share the same position” and will work closely together, as he met his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Bogdanov, on his first stop in Qatar.
His ongoing trip has included stops in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. He may also visit Jordan, but he did not announce stops in Israel nor Iran, which analysts said China could hold sway over as fears loomed over Tehran’s backing of more militant groups to join the war.

The week after the start of Zhai’s trip, foreign minister Wang called Israel for the first time since the war began, warning that “every country has the right to self-defence, but should abide by international law and protect the safety of civilians”, as the death toll mounted.


Humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza as food supplies run out after total Israeli blockade

Humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza as food supplies run out after total Israeli blockade

In a separate call, he told the Palestinian Authority that Beijing deeply sympathised with the plight of Palestinians, especially people in Gaza, while reiterating Beijing’s long-standing call for a “two-state solution”.

Meanwhile, China has backed two US-vetoed resolutions in the United Nations Security Council drafted by Russia and Brazil, respectively, and has voted against

a US-drafted resolution that its ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, said was “evasive” and “seriously out of balance”.

The body remains deadlocked in delivering a response to the Israel-Gaza war.

60-Second Catch-up

Deep dives

Photo: EPA-EFE

Why the Global South is choosing Palestine and China over Israel and US

  • Middle East conflict showcases deep divisions between Washington-led position and newly ascendant grouping of postcolonial and developing countries

  • UN Security Council vote on Russia-drafted resolution underscores split

With supporters clutching small Palestinian flags behind him and a traditional Palestinian scarf draped over his shoulders, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa appeared at a public rally in Boksburg on Saturday, voicing deep concern about “the atrocities that are unfolding in the Middle East”.

Ramaphosa, a former anti-apartheid activist, pledged South Africa would back Palestinians and described them as having withstood Israeli “occupation for almost 75 years”.

Photo: Yik Yeung-man

Tensions over Israel-Gaza war ‘prompt Hong Kong police to step up patrols’

  • Police insider says officers have also asked city’s Jewish and Muslim leaders if they need any help as Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalates

  • ‘We have also requested them to inform us if they observe anything abnormal or spot suspicious individuals,’ source adds

Hong Kong police have stepped up patrols and asked religious leaders to keep an eye out for “suspicious individuals” in response to tensions over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Post has learned.

“Officers have reached out to [Jewish and Muslim] community leaders in the city to inquire if they need any assistance,” a force insider said.

Photo: Bloomberg

Malaysia’s PM Anwar to throw weight behind Palestinian cause on Saudi visit

  • Malaysia has long supported the Palestinian cause, advocating a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict and even hosting Hamas leaders

  • Pressure from Malaysia may help build urgency among Asean, Arab nations to press for an end to Israel’s offensive and flow of aid into Gaza

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Thursday heads to Saudi Arabia, where he will add his country’s weight behind calls for a swift end to the bombardment of Gaza as the surging civilian death toll draws sharp condemnation, especially across the Muslim-majority world.
Thousands have rallied across Malaysia in a sign of the mounting outcry over Israel’s military response to the October 7 assault by Hamas, in a Southeast Asian nation that has long supported the Palestinian cause, advocating a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict and even hosting Hamas leaders.
Photo: EPA-EFE

‘Great Satan America’: Malaysians rally against US support for Israel

  • Over 1,000 people rallied in Malaysia’s capital after Friday prayers, to demand the US take responsibility for enabling Israel’s aggression

  • Protesters clad in keffiyeh, the distinctive Palestinian scarf, marched towards the US embassy and briefly scuffled with police

Malaysian protesters unfurled a 50-metre Palestinian flag and attempted to break a police barricade blocking access to the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, as anger grew over Washington’s unequivocal support of Israel’s military operations in Gaza.
So far, some 3,500 people have been killed in Gaza in an Israeli military siege that has cut water to 2.3 million people and seen bombs rain down on civilian areas.
Photo: Kremlin/dpa

Xi and Putin discuss Gaza crisis and Ukraine war at belt and road forum meeting

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping vows to defend ‘fairness and justice’ as he and Russian leader meet for first time since start of Israel-Hamas war

  • Putin says ‘external factors’ and ‘common threats’ will strengthen Moscow’s ties with Beijing

The Russian president made a rare international trip to China this week to show support for the Belt and Road Initiative – Xi’s flagship programme, now entering its second decade, which Beijing has touted as an alternative to Western development strategies.
Photo: Roy Issa

No events linked to Israel-Gaza war allowed in Singapore amid ‘safety’ concerns

  • The measure extends to the republic’s sole free-speech zone in Hong Lim Park, where protests generally do not require police approval

  • At least two events in Singapore had been planned in support of the Palestinian cause, with details circulating on social media this week

Singapore authorities on Wednesday said they would deny all permit applications from citizens seeking to organise public events related to the Israel-Gaza war, with the measure extending to the republic’s sole free speech zone where protests generally do not require police approval.

In a joint statement, the National Parks Board and the Singapore Police Force cited “public safety and security concerns” for the decision.

Photo: AFP

Chinese Foreign Minister backs efforts to restore ‘legitimate’ Palestinian rights

  • Wang tells Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri that Beijing hopes UN will play a role in bringing about a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

  • Cairo has long been one of the key mediators in the region and has promised to remain in close contact with China during the current crisis

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pledged to support efforts to restore the Palestinian people’s “legitimate rights” and support Arab countries in forming “a common position and a united voice” amid the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Wang told his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukri in a phone call on Monday that the United Nations Security Council “should play its due role in bringing about a ceasefire and an end to the fighting as soon as possible”, according to a statement by the Chinese foreign ministry.

Global Impact is a weekly curated newsletter featuring a news topic originating in China with a significant macro impact for our newsreaders around the world.

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