China Gives $16 Million to Syrian Refugees, $10 Million to Palestinians
China has appropriated $16 million in aid to help refugees who fled the conflict in Syria and $10 million to Palestinians in an effort to strengthen ties with the Middle East.
President Xi Jinping of China said the $16 million in aid will be offered to Syrians who fled to neighboring countries, including Lebanon and Turkey.
According to Haaretz, more than 2.7 million Syrians have fled to escape the bloody violence between anti-government rebels and President Bashar al-Assad's regime that has gripped the country for more than three years.
President Jinping made the announcement to Arab delegates at the sixth meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing Thursday. The event is a hallmark of China's efforts to bolster ties with the Arab world.
Jinping called Arab countries China's "good friends and brothers" and said China supports negotiations, or a "political settlement," to achieve peace in the Middle East. While Jinping did not offer details about the settlement, he solidified his support for Palestinians by offering $10 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority recently formed a unity government composed of Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah government and Hamas, a militant group that is considered a terrorist organization by both the United States and Israel.
While China is strengthening ties with the Middle East to bolster diplomatic relations, the renewed effort to reach out to the Middle East is mainly due to China's increasing dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
The bulk of China's oil comes from Saudi Arabia, and it also imports oil from Iran, Iraq, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
China has been scrutinized for its ties with Iran and with Russia. China has also been criticized for its response to the Syrian civil war, as China vetoed U.N. Security Council sanctions on Bashar al-Assad's regime four times. Beijing also opposes humanitarian intervention in war-torn countries.
China is primarily offering aid to Syrians because it is Syria's third-largest trade partner, according to CNN.
"Beijing's renewed interest in Damascus -- the traditional terminus node of the ancient Silk Road ... indicates that China sees Syria as an important trading hub," said a 2010 report from The Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based research institute.
China's refusal to intervene in Syria to prevent human rights violations does not come as a surprise since China has perpetrated humanitarian violations in Tibet, as well as within China.
However, China opposes the use of chemical weapons and supports the United Nation's chemical weapons inspectors.
China said it believes that a political solution is the only way to end the Syrian war.
"A political solution is always the only realistic means to resolve the Syria issue," Foreign Minister Wang Yi told CNN.
China, which has maintained good relationships with both Israel and Palestinians, is emphasizing its commitment to the Palestinian cause with their generous aid offer.
China was one of the first countries to support the Palestinian national liberation movement and consider the Palestine Liberation Organization a legitimate government.
China advocates peace talks with Israel and supports a sovereign Palestinian state, according to The Global Times.
China is also strengthening ties with the Palestinian Territory to encourage Chinese business investments in the territory and strengthen infrastructure.
China has shown a commitment to Palestinians since the 1960s, but the country still has friendly relations with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited China multiple times, and Israel has taken strides to increase communications with China.
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