Israel Goes Unnamed on Digital Maps in China
Chinese Internet users and the Wall Street Journal have reported that Israel is no longer appearing on local digital maps services like Alibaba and Baidu. While Israel’s borders are still outlined on Baidu’s online maps, as well as key cities like Haifa and Jerusalem, the name “Israel” is not included.
A similar trend is also noticed on Alibaba’s Amap. Notably, Israel’s neighboring countries, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, are still named. This suggests that the move to remove Israel is deliberate and could have been influenced by the Chinese government.
Antisemitism Floods Chinese Internet
Since the Israel-Hamas war broke out earlier this month, antisemitism sentiments have flooded the Internet in China. One post written on the Weibo social media platform by a well-known Chinese nationalist commentator attracted significant engagement last week. The author alleged that Israel was persecuting Palestinians in revenge for the Holocaust executed by Nazi Germany.
Moreover, Chinese media continues to criticize the United States for allegedly “standing on the wrong side” in the ongoing conflict. Amid criticism, the Biden administration has asked China to leverage its relationship with Middle East countries like Iran to help prevent the war from spreading in the region.
Chinese Official Calls for an Immediate Ceasefire
Last week, a Chinese official working in the Middle East, Zhai Jun, called for a ceasefire to allow Palestinians to access humanitarian support. Jun also said he had spoken to Israeli officials and explained that China had no selfish interests in the current war and only advocated for justice and fairness. Another Chinese official, Wang Yi, who serves as the foreign minister, said justice wasn’t done to Gazans when Israel announced blocking the supply of food, water, and fuel to Gaza in response to the Hamas assault.
Meanwhile, several analysts believe that the United States support for Israel in the ongoing war gives China a massive opportunity to grow its market for arms in the Middle East, with dissatisfied Arab nations being its potential customers. However, they also think that Beijing will first aim to help end the conflict in order to secure its economic interests.