Why China Must Pay Attention to the Israel-Palestine Conflict
July 19, 2014
Mu Chunsan makes a fair point: the Beijing cannot ignore for long a foreign policy issue that is engrossing – and dividing – a growing percentage of the Chinese people.
What Mu misses, though, is that despite the growing influence of popular politics on Chinese foreign policy, there are other factors that weigh upon China’s decision to remain aloof from the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorists. China has a complex relationship with Israel (see my article here), one that is disproportionate with the latter’s size. China has defense ties with Jerusalem, depends on a flow of innovations from Israel’s booming labs, and needs Israel’s support in its stance against the growing specter of Islamo-fascism.
Yet China cannot directly incite its Muslim population, nor thumb its nose at the Islamist countries that are a growing part of its international influence and energy supply. Closer examination suggests that Beijing has managed to strike a delicate balance with Israel that has eluded other powers. A more explicit policy on the Mideast, no matter how it might calm a domestic argument, could undermine that balance to the benefit of no one.