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Constructive engagement


In his second visit to the Middle East this year, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Syria, Egypt, Algeria and the headquarters of the League of Arab States from July 17 to 20.

Ten years ago, the Arab Spring fueled by the United States and the West swept across the Middle East and dragged Syria into an abyss of turmoil. The war in Syria over the past decade has left nearly half a million people dead, more than 11 million displaced, and caused economic losses of more than $400 billion, with the country's gross domestic product down by 60 percent.

China firmly supports regional countries safeguarding their sovereign independence and national dignity and opposes external interference in the Middle East. This is the fundamental principle of China's Middle East policy and Wang expressed China's respect and support for the resilient and unyielding Syrian people. During his visit, Wang put forward four initiatives to end the conflict in Syria: first, the principle of sovereignty and independence is inviolable; second the mitigation of the humanitarian crisis must not be delayed; third, the momentum to fight against terrorism must be maintained; and last, inclusive reconciliation should be promoted.

During his trip, Wang also expressed China's unwavering support for the just cause of the Palestinian people and again affirmed that peace between Palestine and Israel must be based on the two-state solution. This is the anchor for China's Middle East diplomacy. The Palestinian issue is a long-lasting issue in the Middle East and remains the longest ongoing regional hotspot issue after World War II. The two-state solution is the only realistic path to resolving the Palestinian question. But the departure of some countries from the spirit of United Nations resolutions to that effect and their abandonment of international consensus and conscience are the root causes for the delay in achieving a just solution to the Palestinian issue. In Cairo, Wang proposed a three-point approach of "exercising sovereignty, internal reconciliation and resuming peace talks "for the implementation of the two-state solution. China and Egypt also announced that they will jointly provide 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which demonstrates China's sincerity to engage constructively with the region.

Regarding the regional security and stability in the Middle East, Wang put forward a five-point initiative during his visit to the Middle East in March, contributing Chinese wisdom to addressing the region's governance, security, and development deficits. During this trip, Wang reaffirmed that China supports Arab countries taking the path of unity and self-reliance and holding their destiny in their own hands and supports the League of Arab States playing a greater role in promoting regional peace and stability and the political settlement of hotspot issues. The joint statement that China and the Secretariat of the League of Arab States issued recognized the important efforts made by the League of Arab States to maintain peace in the Middle East, promote regional development and foster unity and self-reliance in the Arab world. They stressed the importance of upholding the international norm of noninterference in the internal affairs of countries as the key to maintaining security, peace and stability.

Unity, self-reliance, and peaceful development are the aspirations shared by the countries and peoples of the region. China is willing to continue to play a role as a responsible power and help regional countries find the "golden key" to solving regional problems. China will actively support Middle East countries to break away from the historical inertia of geopolitical rivalry, enhance strategic autonomy, build on the consensus of non-interference in internal affairs, explore development paths with Middle East characteristics in the spirit of independence and autonomy, promote internal unity and the resolution of conflicts and disputes in an inclusive and conciliatory manner.

In its diplomacy China stands firmly with the developing countries, including the Middle East countries, and it promotes a just and reasonable international order and global governance. During his visit to Algeria, Wang recalled that Algeria and other developing countries literally "carried" China into the United Nations 50 years ago, and stressed that this event, of great historical significance, was a vivid reflection of the solidarity and cooperation of developing countries.

Currently, as the United States is building "small circles", engaging in "pseudo-multilateralism" while practicing "hegemony" in the international arena, it is particularly urgent for developing countries to strengthen solidarity and cooperation. China will never fail the developing countries. It will practice true multilateralism, jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind, and safeguard the common interests of all developing countries.

As a Chinese proverb observes, a just cause enjoys abundant support while an unjust cause finds little. China's responsible Middle East policy has won abundant support and appreciation. The three countries Wang visited are old friends and good brothers of China, and their support for China's core interests has never wavered. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that Syria supports China unconditionally on issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said his country will ensure unswerving and uninterrupted cooperation between the two sides, uphold the one-China policy, and firmly support China's fight against terrorism and religious extremism. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stressed that since its independence, Algeria's China policy and its support of China have never changed. League of Arab States Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit highly appreciated the historic achievements made by the Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, supported China's initiatives on the regional situation and hotspot issues, and promised to communicate closely with China to ensure the success of the first China-Arab Summit slated for 2022 in Saudi Arabia.

China does not seek to compete with or replace any country in the Middle East, nor to attempt to fill the vacuum. In a bid to build a community of a shared future for mankind, China has always been a contributor to world peace, development and a defender of the international order.

The author is a commentator on Middle East affairs based in Beijing. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.