China as a rising power is poised to shoulder more responsibilities in helping resolve hotspot issues around the world, especially in the chaotic Middle East.
By launching a new peace initiative to push forward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, China has sent out a signal that it is ready to play a bigger role in the Middle East peace process.
Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a four-point proposal on the Palestine issue during Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to Beijing in July.
In the proposal, Xi reiterated that China supports a two-state solution to the Palestine issue and supports Palestine to build an independent, fully sovereign state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. He also introduced new initiatives, including China’s concrete measures to back Palestine’s economic development.
China also offered to host a symposium on peace later this year and launch a tripartite dialogue mechanism with Palestine and Israel to coordinate the implementation of major assistance programs in Palestine within the framework of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The proposal is in line with China’s vision of achieving a peaceful and prosperous Middle East as elaborated in a policy speech Xi made during his visit to the region last year.
Speaking at the headquarters of the Arab League in Egypt’s capital of Cairo in January 2016, Xi proposed promoting peace through advancing economic development as a creative way to tackle the challenges of poverty and terrorism in the Middle East.
Middle Eastern countries were also invited to actively participate in China’s Belt and Road Initiative to build more infrastructure facilities, so to create more job opportunities and lift more people out of poverty.
Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held meetings in Beijing respectively with senior officials from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Tunisia to discuss the Gulf standoff and Libyan peace process.
Wang put forward a three-point proposal on easing tensions between Qatar and the Saudi Arabia-led Quartet through political dialogues within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council, while outlining four principles on settling the Libyan issue through dialogues and negotiations under the leadership of the United Nations.
Achieving peace in the Middle East holds the key to building “a human community with shared destiny” as envisioned by China. The concept aims at maintaining peace, sustaining development and ensuring continued prosperity through achieving shared, win-win development.
As China walks onto the center of the world stage, it is ready to increase its engagement with the Middle East, at a time when the U.S.-led West is nearly at its wit’s end in seeking a viable solution to the chaos.
Based on its miraculous achievements in realizing fast economic growth and eradicating poverty, China indeed has a lot of experiences to share with the Middle East.
China has also delivered more public goods compatible with its status as a responsible big player, by increasing humanitarian aid to a chain of war-torn countries across the region, such as Palestine, South Sudan, Syria, Libya and Yemen, just to name a few.
In April, China pledged to provide South Sudan with 8,800 tons of rice, 1,500 tons of which were already delivered. In July, China contributed 5 million U.S. dollars to the UN Food Programme in emergency food aid to the hunger-stricken Yemen.
No doubt, China’s new peace initiative and increased contribution will inject new impetus into the peace efforts in the Middle East, whose stability is so crucial to achieving world peace and prosperity.