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China asserts its global ambitions despite conflict in the Middle East

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet in Beijing this week, signifying their shared vision for a new international order that is not dominated by the United States and its democratic allies. This meeting is taking place amidst global geopolitical tensions, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Israeli conflict with Hamas threatening stability in the Middle East.

Both Beijing and Moscow have criticized Israel’s actions and called for a ceasefire, showcasing their efforts to establish an alternative leadership to that of the United States. The meeting between Xi and Putin will likely include discussions on the situation in Gaza, as well as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. China has positioned itself as a potential mediator in both conflicts while being cautious not to damage its relationship with Russia.

Furthermore, Putin’s visit to Beijing coincides with the Belt and Road Forum, a crucial two-day diplomatic event marking ten years since the initiation of Xi’s global infrastructure funding drive. This event provides an opportunity for China to assert its growing global ambitions. Moscow is expected to propose a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza without explicitly naming Hamas.

While China has condemned acts that harm civilians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it has not specifically targeted its condemnation at Hamas. In contrast, the United States has expressed unwavering support for Israel and indicated that this may not be the appropriate time for a ceasefire. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is also expected to be discussed during the meeting, with China attempting to position itself as a mediator.

It remains to be seen whether China will exert pressure on Russia to end its invasion, as policymakers in Beijing are wary of any strain in the Beijing-Moscow relationship. With potential shifts in global positions on the Ukraine conflict and an upcoming US election that could impact US support for Ukraine, China may choose to tread cautiously.

Overall, this meeting between Xi and Putin highlights the close economic and diplomatic support between China and Russia, while also showcasing their efforts to challenge the dominance of the United States on the global stage.

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