Schumer’s Diplomatic Mission
While on a diplomatic mission to China, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer voiced his disappointment with the Chinese government’s response to the ongoing Hamas attack on Israel. Schumer, a Democrat from New York, leads a bipartisan delegation of six senators, marking the first official visit by US lawmakers to China since 2019.
During a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai Guest House in Beijing on October 9, 2023, Schumer urged both the Chinese government and its people to stand in solidarity with Israel and condemn the attacks by Hamas. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, in its statement, called for an immediate cessation of hostilities from both sides.
During this brazen attack, hundreds of terrorists infiltrated Israel, resulting in the tragic loss of over 700 lives, both civilians and soldiers, with more than 2,000 individuals sustaining injuries. Additionally, the assailants took around 100 captives, dragging them into Gaza.
At the time of Schumer’s remarks, Israeli forces were still engaged in combat with the terrorists, working tirelessly to secure the border and dislodge Gaza gunmen from areas of southern Israel. In retaliation, Israel responded with airstrikes on Gaza, with reports from Palestinian health officials indicating an approximate death toll of 500 in the Strip.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement underscores the belief that establishing an independent state of Palestine is the fundamental step towards resolving the longstanding conflict. It emphasized that the persistence of this conflict highlights the urgency for the international community to expedite efforts and facilitate the resumption of peace talks.
Charting The Right Course
Wang Yi, who spoke prior to Schumer, did not offer a direct response before the media were escorted out of the room. The two governments are currently working to arrange a meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping during the upcoming regional summit in San Francisco in a move to manage the increasingly complex relationship.
While China has historically supported the Palestinian cause, it has also strengthened ties with Israel, aspiring to play a more substantial role in areas such as trade, technology, and diplomacy. In recent times, China has taken a more active role in Middle Eastern affairs. One of such roles is restoring diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Schumer’s Advocacy And Concerns
Schumer stated that his primary focus during this diplomatic mission was to advocate for fair trade between the United States and China. He suggested that China should foster economic opportunities that can benefit both nations.
However, the US envoy added that China must also ensure a level playing field for American businesses and workers. Wang Yi, in turn, urged the United States to respect China’s core interests and developmental rights.
Schumer further raised pressing concerns about Chinese companies allegedly supplying chemicals for producing fentanyl, a potent opioid contributing to a burgeoning public health crisis. He also emphasized the need for China to withhold support for Russia’s actions in Ukraine, condemning what he characterized as an “immoral war” against a sovereign nation.