Abbas Goes to China

The United States might not be interested in the Middle East, but China is. In the latest of a series of diplomatic maneuvers in the region, Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, to Beijing, announced a “strategic partnership” between the two sides, and declared his willingness to help negotiate a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

This is part of an accelerating Chinese efforts to compete with the United States across all elements of national power and erode and displace America’s international primacy, following the recent China-brokered rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to resume diplomatic ties in March. This particular outreach to the Palestinians has the further subtext of signaling to Israel—which has been taking steps to reduce Chinese involvement in its economy—the potential dangers of refusing to do business with Beijing. Without renewed U.S. leadership and engagement in the region, China will likely continue finding diplomatic victories, however symbolic, in the Middle East, peeling away U.S. partners, and weakening Washington’s ability to compete against Beijing.

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Blaise Misztal – Vice President for Policy