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Why China Is Siding With Hamas

Since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, brutally massacring 1,400 Israelis and taking 200 hostage into Gaza, China has taken the side of Hamas, condemning what they have called Israel's "excessive retaliatory actions." On October 14, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Saudi counterpart that Israel's actions had exceeded self-defense. "It should seriously listen to the calls of the international community and the United Nations secretary general and stop collective punishment of the people of Gaza," Wang Yi said.
Su Lin, a prominent Chinese social media personality, went one step further, describing Hamas as "too soft" and equating Israel with the Nazis. And while Lin isn't a government official, her hateful commentary managed to pass the online censorship in China, indicating official approval from Beijing and a deliberate strategy by the CCP.
What is this strategy? During his recent visit to Russia, Xi Jinping shared his vision for a "great transformation of the century" with Putin, seeking to replace the current U.S.-backed liberal world order with a multipolar international system, dethroning America from its position of global leadership.
To achieve this goal, propaganda serves as a vital tool for the CCP. Whenever the opportunity arises, Beijing enthusiastically promotes the narrative that the United States is the embodiment of arrogance and oppression—nothing more than an imperialist power, while the CCP is a responsible global force that seeks peace.
A China Global Television Network (CGTN) segment on October 15 was a case in point: It contrasted China's calls for a cease-fire and humanitarian relief to Gaza with the U.S. deploying aircraft carriers in the region. The message was clear: the U.S. is a warmonger, and China is the peacekeeper.
Beijing's rhetorical campaign initially shaped public opinion within China—and then spread to international arenas. It resonated with audiences in Muslim-majority countries, major European and American cities with significant Muslim populations, and more generally with China's allies worldwide.
Of course, it's nonsense. Demanding a ceasefire from Israel at this time is to give Hamas impunity for its mass murder and atrocities. But even Beijing doesn't mean it.
Beijing may pay lip service to peace in the region, but the conflict in the Middle East is much to Beijing's advantage, especially when it intensifies. Beijing views October 7 as an opportunity to distract the U.S. from focusing its energy on Taiwan.
But it goes beyond geopolitics. China's global strategy of forging a new world order is also intended to help the CCP with China's economic challenges by integrating these global forces into initiatives like the Belt and Road. And China is desperate for help on the economic front. Regardless of the government's initiatives, the private sector and Chinese citizens are deeply reluctant to spend, invest, or have children. Consequently, even with substantial government injections into the economy, the funds merely circulate within the financial system without stimulating broader economic activity. Finding an alternative market as the West grows increasingly wary of Beijing is therefore essential for China, which is desperately seeking new areas of economic growth.
On October 17, China marked the tenth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative with a grand celebration in Beijing, attended by representatives from over 130 countries. The underlying message conveyed during the conference was that the Belt and Road Initiative would not only continue to expand but would do so with strategic refinements. Large-scale projects would give way to more focused endeavors, particularly in sectors such as green energy and healthcare, mitigating the risks associated with China's previous substantial loans that proved difficult to repay.
In this context, intensified regional conflicts benefit the CCP. Amid global turmoil, nations opposing the United States and its allies have nowhere to go but to turn to China, as Russia's President Vladimir Putin recently exemplified. Before the Russia-Ukraine war, Putin stood as an equal to Xi Jinping, with many believing Xi admired him. Russia, however, maintained a cautious distance from China due to distrust in the CCP. Yet Putin's Ukraine invasion isolated Russia's economy from the West, compelling Russia to lean heavily on China. Consequently, China gained more leverage to dictate the terms of the bilateral relationship.
Iran is in the same position. In February of this year, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited China and was warmly received by Xi Jinping. The two countries signed agreements worth billions of dollars, which greatly reduced the pressure on Iran from Western sanctions.
Beijing is actively pursuing alliances with countries that are at odds with the United States, which are essential to its strategic agenda. But Beijing's geopolitical strategy can only be fully understood in the context of the Chinese Communist Party's urgent domestic need to boost its struggling economy.
So how does the liberal world order fight it?
The United States and its allies must respond with strategic determination and great patience. Specifically in the Middle East, it's crucial to support Israel in completely neutralizing Hamas, dismantling various support networks for the organization, enduring international anti-Israel pressure, and methodically achieving these goals.

Oct 22, 2023 13:14
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