According to Chinese state-run news agency, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has arrived in Beijing for a four-day state visit.
It is the Palestinian leader’s fifth official visit to the world’s second-largest economy and it comes as China has expressed readiness to help facilitate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Official Palestinian news agency reported that Abbas is expected to meet China’s President Xi Jinping during the trip.
The two leaders are expected to “exchange opinions… on the latest developments on the Palestinian arena as well as on regional and international issues of mutual concern”, the news outlet reported, adding that Abbas will also meet Premier Li Qiang.
Last week, Chinese foreign ministry Spokesman, Wang Wenbin disclosed at a briefing that Mahmoud Abbas, the longtime Palestinian leader is an “old and good friend of the Chinese people.”
“He is the first Arab head of state received by China this year, fully embodying the high level of China-Palestine good relations, which have traditionally been friendly,” he said, adding that “China has always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights.”
China In Support Of Peace Talks Between Palestine And Israel
Chinese state media reported that Foreign Minister Qin Gang averred 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 willing to play an active role in this regard.”
In announcing the visit, China’s Foreign Ministry noted that Beijing was willing to help broker relations between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government that have deteriorated to the lowest level in recent years.
Increased fighting over the last year between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank has resulted in the deadliest period of violence between the sides in years in that territory.
The visit also comes after China hosted talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia that resulted in the two restoring diplomatic relations. That development was seen as a sign of diplomatic victory for China as Gulf Arab states perceive the United States slowly withdrawing from the wider region.
However, it is unclear how far the efforts at rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia would go. In recent years, the two nations have sponsored competing armed organizations and political factions throughout the area. The rivalry dates to the 1979 revolution that overthrew Iran’s monarchy, which was supported by the West.
President Xi last December visited Saudi Arabia on an Arab outreach trip where he met with Abbas and pledged to “work for an early, just and durable solution to the Palestinian issue.”
Beijing has sought to boost its ties to the Middle East, challenging long-standing U.S influence there; efforts that have triggered unease in Washington.
During a trip to Riyadh last week, U.S Secretary of State, Antony Blinken stressed that Saudi Arabia was not being forced to choose between Washington and Beijing, striking a conciliatory tone amid their tense relations.