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China’s Long Game

China’s long game: Support for Palestinian cause in wake of Hamas terrorist attack masks efforts to lead and shape Global South agenda

By. Stephen r. Nagy

Professor of Politics and International Studies

International Christian University (ICU), Tokyo, Japan

Senior Fellow,MacDonald Laurier Institute

Fellow, Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Visiting Fellow, Japan Institute for International Affairs (JIIA)

The ISRAEL PALESTINE conflict has demonstrated China's commitment to supporting the Global South's agenda such as representing injustices, developmental challenges and a commonly held view in the developing world that the current international order does not represent their interests or meet the needs of developing countries. At the same time, China has, through its lack of explicit condemnation of Hamas' brutal attack on Israel on October 7 and alignment with Middle Eastern countries and countries that support Palestine and the Palestinian people have demonstrated that China prioritizes creating a coalition of developing states within the Global South to reshape global institutions and international order in a manner that is in line with China's five principles of peaceful coexistence with the special priority on non interference, sovereigntry.

Through the support of the Palestinian cause and rejecting an explicit criticism and condemnation of Hamas' attack on Israel, Beijing hopes to marshal developing countries behind its vision of a democratised international order. Clearly, the choice to condemn Israel's defensive behavior towards Hamas and avoiding explicit criticism and condemnation of Hamas has geopolitical intentions to help achieve China's long term ambition of diluting international institutions based on post World War Two Western norms such as democracy, human rights and rule of law.

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As China approaches the problem of Israel and Palestine, it continues to see support for Palestine and rejection of Israel's right to defend itself through the lens of US China relations and the deepening strategic competition that is playing out in the Indo Pacific and the broader region supporting the Palestinian cause in the wake of Hamas is brutal attack against Israel allows China to ingratiate and inculcate itself into the ambitions the disappointments and hopes of the global south in reshaping international order in a way that prioritizes good governance, rule of law and accountability of leaders as China continues to pursue a path towards diluting US and Western influence in international institutions and globally, China will continue to leverage broader animosity towards Israel in the developing world or so called Global South by enhancing the injustice narratives associated with the Palestinian people and the two party two to two state solution. This is meant to alienate the US and its allies from the developing world or global south an make it more difficult for the US and its allies to cultivate strong sustained relationships with the global south and to deprioritize things like good governance, human rights, rule of law that are fundamentally against China's own one party state system.

As we move forward in 2024, the competition for the global south and the developing world will revolve around not only infrastructure and connectivity and developmental initiatives, but more and more it will be a competition for the hearts and minds of the developing world through issues such as a two state solution to deal with the challenges associated with Israel and Palestine, Palestinian people, which is seen as hypocrisy in the developing world.

How China will continue to exploit the conflict between Israel and Hamas and the Palestinian people in 2024 will be important to watch. No doubt we will see disinformation deployed within the region. We will see a disinformation enhancing the narrative that Israel is prosecuting a war against the Palestinian people rather than Hamas, and we're likely to see China alongside its authoritarian allies such as Russia, Iran, perhaps North Korea, take every opportunity to use the conflict between Israel and Hamas as a wedge issue in domestic politics and international politics, making it increasingly difficult for the US and its allies to preserve, protect and reform the current international rules based order.

Dr. Stephen Nagy received his PhD in International Relations /Studies from Waseda University in 2008. His main affiliation is as a professor at the International Christian University, Tokyo. He is also a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI); a visiting fellow with the Japan Institute for International Affairs (JIIA); a senior fellow at the MacDonald Laurier Institute (MLI); and a senior fellow with the East Asia Security Centre (EASC).

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