Abbas begins his visit to China as Beijing seeks a larger role in the Middle East

Tuesday marked the start of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ trip to China, which comes at a time when Beijing is vying for energy resources and seeking a bigger role in Middle Eastern affairs.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in announcing the visit that China was ready to assist in mediating the deteriorating ties between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, which had reached their lowest point in recent years. The government withheld information on Abbas’ four-day visit, including who he would see in Beijing.

The West Bank has seen the bloodiest period of bloodshed between Israel and the Palestinians in years as a consequence of increased fighting during the last year.

Ahead of the visit, China held negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia that led to the two countries’ restoration of diplomatic ties.

As Gulf Arab governments regard the United governments as gradually receding from the larger area, this move was hailed as a diplomatic gain for China.

However, it is unclear how far the attempts at rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia would go. In recent years, the two nations have sponsored competing armed organisations and political factions across the area. The rivalry stems to the 1979 revolution that overthrew Iran’s monarchy, which was supported by the West.

Foreign Minister Qin Gang was reported by state-run television network CCTV as stating that China “supports the resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel as soon as possible on the basis of the two-state solution” and is prepared to take an active role in this respect.

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