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Print Edition> World
UPDATED: January 7, 2014 NO. 2 JANUARY 9, 2014
Peace in the Middle East
Foreign minister's trip highlights China's increasing involvement in the region
By Ding Ying

COORDINATION: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) meets with General Secretary of the Gulf Cooperation Council Abdul Latif Bin Rashid Al Zayani in Riyadh on December 25, 2013 (FMPRC.GOV.CN)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi took a tour of the Middle East and North Africa from December 17-26, 2013, consisting of stops in Palestine, Israel, Algeria, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. As the foreign minister commented, it was a visit in the name of "friendship, peace and cooperation." With its growing strength and ability, China will be more capable of playing an increasingly influential role in the region.

According to Gao Zugui, a senior research fellow with the Party School of the Communist Party of China, the foreign minister's trip promoted China's relationship with countries and nations in the region. He believed that since China stresses a stance of upholding justice and playing an active and responsible role in Middle Eastern issues, its relations with the region are expected to warm up in the future.

China and Middle Eastern nations have maintained friendly cooperation, with continuously expanding communication and cooperation in areas such as politics, economy, security, culture and society. All of these have allowed them to lay a solid foundation for strengthening China's relationships in the region, Gao added.

Focal issues

China has reaffirmed the direction of further building its unique multi-dimensional diplomacy, and its relationships in the Middle East are a part of that diplomacy. The situation in the Middle East has been tense for a while, with thorny issues such as tensions between Israel and Palestine, the Syria crisis and Iran's nuclear issue.

"China looks forward to peace in the Middle East and amity between the region's countries. We are also willing to make our own contributions to the situation and play a suitable role in promoting peace, stability, development and prosperity in the Middle East," Wang said on December 19.

Wang reiterated China's stance on sensitive issues in the Middle East during his trip. One of his main tasks while there was to implement China's proposals toward the Palestine-Israel issue. In May, Chinese President Xi Jinping came up with four suggestions for solving the problem: heading in the right direction by acknowledging Palestine as an independent country and developing peaceful coexistence between Israel and Palestine; considering peace talks as a crucial part of the solution; insisting on principles such as "land for peace"; and providing a guarantee for advancing the peace process to international society.

Wang expounded China's stance on the Syria issue. China insists that a political solution be found to the issue, as military action can only lead to harm to civilians. He announced that China will provide more emergent assistance worth 20 million yuan ($3.13 million) to Syrian refugees to help them through the cold winter. He called for a ceasefire, relief for the spreading humanitarian crisis, strict implementation of the UN resolution to destroy chemical weapons, and political solution.

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