China and Arab League pledge mutual support, rejecting ‘interference’

·4-min read

China opposes external interference in Arab countries and fully supports the sovereignty of countries facing serious conflict in the region, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a joint statement with the Arab League.

The statement was released after a Sunday meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the secretary general of the Arab League, during which the two sides also agreed to push for international talks based on a two-state solution that would include the early establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

“The establishment of an independent Palestinian state should not be delayed indefinitely and the legitimate rights of the Arab people should not be ignored for too long,” Wang said, adding that China was willing to host the two sides for direct talks, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

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Wang called for talks between Israeli and Palestinian authorities based on the two-state solution, which he described as “the sole practical solution” to one of the world’s most enduring conflicts.

Wang said efforts should be made to strengthen the authority of the Palestinian National Authority, the Fatah-controlled, interim self-government body that exercises partial civil control over the Gaza Strip and West Bank areas. He urged political talks within Palestine to establish a unified position in its talks with Israel.

Wang was in the Egyptian city of El Alamein, the second stop of his four-day visit to the Middle East. This was his second trip to the region this year, and earlier on Sunday he met his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukri, during which the two sides agreed to send Palestinian authorities 500,000 Covid-19 jabs from Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac’s production line in Egypt, which opened last month and had manufactured 1 million doses as of July 5.

In the joint statement, published on Monday on the website of the Chinese foreign ministry, China and the 22-member Arab League said they agreed to strengthen cooperation on the production of Chinese Covid-19 vaccines in the region and opposed any political manipulation of investigations into the coronavirus’ origins.

The two sides would continue to “support each other on issues of mutual core interests and of major concerns … and oppose the politicisation of human rights issues and [its] use as a tool to exert pressure on other countries and interfere in their internal affairs”, the joint statement said.

The statement stressed the importance of “maintaining the unity and territorial integrity of Arab countries, particularly Syria, Libya and Yemen”.

“Killings should be stopped and political solutions should be promoted … while external interference against Arab countries should be rejected,” the statement said, adding that the Arab League welcomed China to play a role in resolving regional disputes.

There have been hopes of reaching a full ceasefire to end the decade-long conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen after foreign countries, including the United States, agreed to pull out their forces and mercenaries from the region.

The transitional leadership in Libya has agreed to push for a presidential and parliamentary election in December to prevent a permanent splitting of the oil-rich North African country. In Yemen, a peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia in March to end a civil war that has lasted for nearly six years was initially agreed by the Yemeni government and the major political parties.

On Saturday in a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Wang said China opposed any attempt to promote regime change in Syria. He said China would step up cooperation with Damascus on the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing’s infrastructure investment programme.

Through the initiative, Beijing has significantly expanded its economic presence in the region, raising speculation that China could engage more widely in regional affairs.

But Beijing has avoided taking sides in conflicts, citing its principle of non-interference, and has preferred to try to mediate through multilateral platforms.

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