China’s Response to the Israel-Hamas War

November 07, 2023

On the morning of October 07, 2023, Hamas launched an unprovoked attack from the Gaza Strip, indiscriminately killing more than 1,400 Israeli and foreign nationals. Over 200 civilians, including women and children, were taken to Gaza as hostages. IN response to this attack, as well as subsequent attacks launched from Lebanon and Syria, Israel began an unprecedented bombing campaign of Gaza and targeted Hezbollah and Syrian government military positions. The conflict is unlikely to end soon and may spread.

While the conflict itself demands global attention, the focus of this podcast is Chinese foreign and security policy. This discussion focuses on China’s response to the war, China’s relations with Palestine and Israel, and the actions that Beijing might take in the coming weeks and months that could help defuse the conflict or cause it to worsen.

To date, China has not condemned Hamas. Instead, it has criticized what it calls Israel’s disproportionate military response and the “collective punishment of the Gazan people.” Moreover, it has trumpeted its position as an unbiased potential mediator and called for a ceasefire and the implementation of a two-state solution.

Host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Tuvia Gering, who, like many Israelis, has been activated to defend his country. Gering is a leading expert on China and its relations with the Middle East. In his civilian capacity, he is a researcher at the Diane & Guilford Glazer Foundation’s Israel-China Policy Center at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv and a nonresident fellow for the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub.

Episode Highlights:

[02:25] China’s Past Relationships with Israel and Palestine

[03:43] Reaction to the Chinese Response

[05:06] China’s Interests in Supporting Palestine

[09:06] China’s Reaction to the Death of Chinese Citizens

[10:55] Benefits of a Wider Conflict for China

[15:02] Comparisons to the War in Ukraine

[17:54] China as a Mediator for the War

[20:55] Antisemitism in Chinese Society

[23:35] Outcome of the War for China