Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

China rebukes Israel ahead of Netanyahu visit

By Ivan Watson and Feng Ke, CNN
updated 7:17 AM EDT, Tue May 7, 2013
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping on May 6, 2013.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping on May 6, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu is in China for a five-day visit
  • China: "The sovereignty of any country should be respected"
  • Netanyahu's visit coincides with arrival of his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas
  • Two Mideast leaders not likely to meet, Israeli spokesman says

Beijing (CNN) -- The Chinese government had stern words for Israel at the start of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's five-day visit to the country.

"We oppose the use of weapons. We believe the sovereignty of any country should be respected," said Hua Chunying, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman on Monday, responding to reports that Israel carried out airstrikes against its neighbor Syria last weekend.

"China calls upon relevant parties to bear in mind peace and stability of the region, to exercise restraint and refrain from any actions that may escalate the tension," she added.

Strangely, Netanyahu's visit to China on Monday coincided with the arrival of the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

Beijing said it would be willing to host a bilateral meeting between the two Middle Eastern leaders. But an Israeli government official told CNN there were no plans for secret talks in China between Netanyahu and Abbas.

Israel bolsters defense near Syria
Syria: More than just a civil war?
Obama: Palestinians deserve own state

"Don't hold your breath for a summit in Beijing," the Israeli official told CNN, on condition of anonymity.

The Israeli official said the Chinese had "never been involved in mediating or suggesting new ideas or making plans. They are the big silent giant."

China has not traditionally played a mediation role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But this week the world's second largest economy appeared to be flexing its diplomatic muscles in the Middle East, proposing a four-point peace plan and repeating its call for the establishment of a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

"The issue, already lasting more than half a century, has brought deep suffering to the Palestinian people and remains an important reason of extended turbulence in the Middle East region," said Chinese president Xi Jinping, during a meeting with Abbas on Monday, according to China's state news agency Xinhua.

Israel's prime minister is visiting China's commercial capital Shanghai on Tuesday. He is expected to travel on to Beijing on Wednesday.

China's foreign ministry spokesman suggested Netanyahu may get a tough, unwelcome message from his Chinese hosts.

"On the current Syrian situation and Israel's continuous air raid inside, I have already expounded China's position," Hua said on Tuesday. "And we will explicitly tell the Israeli side China's position."

China has a long history of expressing public support for the Palestinians.

The Chinese government has also used its veto in the United Nations Security Council to protect the Syrian government from facing Western-backed sanctions, throughout two years of bloody violence in Syria.

However, Beijing has also quietly established closer trade ties in recent years with Israel.

CNN's Michael Schwartz in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:14 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
Despite China's inexorable economic rise, the U.S. is still an indispensable ally, especially in Asia. No one knows this more than the Asian giant's leaders, writes Kerry Brown.
updated 6:59 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
The new U.S. deal with China on greenhouse gases faces enormous challenges in both countries. Jonathan Mann explains.
updated 10:38 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
For the United States and China to announce a plan reducing carbon emissions by almost a third by the year 2030 is a watershed moment for climate politics on so many fronts.
updated 3:26 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
China shows off its new stealth fighter jet, but did it steal the design from an American company? Brian Todd reports.
updated 8:01 PM EST, Mon November 10, 2014
Airshow China in Zhuhai provides a rare glimpse of China's military and commercial aviation hardware.
updated 8:14 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
A new exchange initiative aims to bridge relations between the two countries .
updated 12:51 AM EST, Tue November 11, 2014
Xi and Abe's brief summit featured all the enthusiasm of two unhappy schoolboys forced to make up after a schoolyard dust-up.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Mon November 10, 2014
Maybe you've decided to show your partner love with a new iPhone. But how about 99 of them?
updated 9:19 PM EST, Sun November 2, 2014
Can China's Muslim minority fit in? One school is at the heart of an ambitious experiment to assimilate China's Uyghurs.
updated 9:55 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of thousands of Americans learning Chinese.
updated 12:00 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou says he needs to maintain good economic ties with China while trying to keep Beijing's push for reunification at bay.
updated 1:28 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Chinese drone-maker DJI wants to make aerial photography drones mainstream despite concerns about privacy.
updated 1:18 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
A top retired general confesses to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in war on corruption.
updated 10:42 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
China sends an unmanned spacecraft to the moon and back but is country following an outdated recipe for superpower status?
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Full marks for ingenuity: Students employ high-tech gadgets worthy of a spy movie to pass national exam.
updated 1:26 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Confucius Institutes seek to promote Chinese language and culture but some have accused them of "cultural imperialism."
updated 11:11 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G wants everyone to know that he's not a foreign agitator trying to defy the Chinese Communist Party.
ADVERTISEMENT