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Conflict in the Gaza Strip. Chinese ships near Israel. OSW expert: Beijing wants to confirm the superpower status of the PRC

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During the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, six Chinese navy ships were stationed in the Middle East region. They were intended to mark the presence of the People’s Republic of China and confirm its superpower status, especially in the eyes of the Chinese themselves, says Dr. Michał Bogusz from the Center for Eastern Studies. “Beijing remains formally neutral regarding the war with Hamas, but it is increasingly favorable to the Palestinian side. Beijing is calling for an immediate ceasefire, which would be a success for Hamas,” says the OSW expert.

According to experts, the Chinese position towards the conflict is more favorable to the Palestinian side, which is part of Beijing’s efforts to undermine the position of USA in the world and increase its influence among developing countries.

During the latest escalation, six Chinese warships were present in Middle Eastern waters, the Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post reported. Chinese media emphasize that the ships were involved in routine escort missions and were not involved in the conflict that erupted after the Palestinian Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

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“The PRC has been sending naval units to escort operations in the Gulf of Aden for many years. It is routine practice to send three warships to the region for each escort mission, so six ships are present at a time during the rotation,” explains Bonnie S. Glaser, director of the Indo Program -Pacific in the American think tank German Marshall Fund.

Chinese ship (illustrative photo) STAFF / Reuters / Forum

Bogusz: China is using the crisis in the Gaza Strip to attack the West with propaganda

According to Dr. Michał Bogusz, sending the ships was to “mark the presence of the PRC and confirm, especially in the eyes of domestic public opinion, the superpower status of the PRC.” In practice, however, it will have no influence on the development of events on site.

The Chinese authorities have consistently called for a ceasefire and a halt to escalation, but they have also intensified their rhetoric against Israel. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said that the country’s actions “have gone beyond the scope of self-defense” and called for an end to the “collective punishment” of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip for the Hamas attack.

Israeli troops at the border with the Gaza StripPAP/EPA/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE

“Beijing remains formally neutral when it comes to the war with Hamas, but it is increasingly favorable to the Palestinian side. Beijing is calling for an immediate ceasefire, which would be a success for Hamas. In this way, it is trying to increase support among the so-called Global South,” says the OSW expert.

In his opinion, Beijing is also using the crisis to attack the West with propaganda. However, it probably has limited leverage Iranand thus – on the development of the situation in the region.

“Beijing is unlikely to play the role of a mediator for peace between Israel and Palestine”

Earlier this year, Beijing mediated negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which resulted in an agreement to normalize relations. However, commentators are skeptical about whether China will be able to contribute significantly to the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Beijing is unlikely to play the role of a peace broker between Israel and Palestine. Saudi Arabia and Iran sought better relations, and China offered its help. They have good relations with both sides, says Glaser.

“China’s response to the Hamas attack showed the extent to which Beijing is willing to pit itself against Israel, which is consistent with its goals of weakening American influence and strengthening its relations with the Global South. Israel would not trust China to play a role in building lasting peace.” adds the German Marshall Fund expert.

Main photo source: STAFF / Reuters / Forum

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