Long embracing political non-interference as a core principle, China has deviated from the deeply entrenched foreign policy norm in the Israeli-Gaza war. China voiced unequivocal support for the Gaza people following the cataclysmic conflict that erupted on 7 October.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged immediate ceasefire in Gaza, reiterated the two-state solution as the only path to peace, criticised Israel for the injustice inflicted on the Palestinians over more than half a century, and categorised the nature of Israel’s current war beyond the scope of self-defence.
While the Chinese envoy to the Middle East conducts busy shuttle diplomacy, Chinese social media is infested with antisemitic and anti-US remarks.
China’s response to the war in Gaza and Ukraine is starkly different in two main aspects. Over the more than 600 days of the war in Ukraine, China has insisted on its political impartiality to both parties at war. Almost immediately following the outbreak of the war in Gaza, China advocated for the interests of Gaza.
Neither China nor the US has directly participated in the War on Ukraine. Providing financial support to varying degrees, the war in Ukraine has evolved into a proxy war of sorts.
The war in Gaza has the potential to drag both the US and China into a regional conflict directly outside the Pacific. Two US aircraft carriers are deployed in the seas around Gaza, intercepting missiles aimed at Israel.
Meanwhile, six Chinese warships are now stationed in an undisclosed location in the Middle East, following the military drill in Omani waters. China operates a dual-purpose port off the coast of Djibouti.
If the conflict in Gaza were to spiral to a regional scale, almost certainly, the US would directly intervene, and possibly, China would, too.
As war tensions flare from the Black Sea to the Arabian Sea, a consort of players could accidentally widen the regional conflict into a Eurasian one. If conditions worsen, this is a war China cannot afford to stay neutral.