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Daily News Analysis

China-Israel relations: Are they durable?

Crescent International

The Qatari TV channel Al-Jazeera published a report on June 7 examining economic ties between Zionist Israel and China.

It stated that economic ties between the two countries are profitable and sustainable for the near future.

One can surmise that China’s cooperation with Israel will not change drastically, or soon.

However, as China’s relations with other Muslim governments and influential Muslim business organizations continue to develop, Beijing’s economic ties with Israel will begin to change.

It is quite possible that some Muslim countries will attempt to incentivize China to reduce its ties with Israel.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) involves many Muslim countries.

In fact, its logistical destiny is heavily dependent on Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.

Beijing garnered significant animosity in many Muslim societies due to its oppressive anti-Muslim policies in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Thus, purely out of political expediency, China may opt for a less favorable stance toward Israel to improve its image in the Muslim world.

The Chinese political establishment seems to understand this Machiavellian approach even if it is not implementing it consistently and strategically for now.

Strictly from an economic perspective, Israel is not an ideal partner for China.

It is an entity constantly involved in conflict.

This creates a significant degree of unpredictability.

Thus, investing in Israel is risky.

Israel survives—and thrives—on billions in external aid, most notably from the US.

Even those who attempt to project Israel as some sort of an economic miracle admit that it suffers from major economic flaws.

Econometrics are not in Israel’s favor if Beijing decides to take an in-depth and long-term look at the potential benefits China would derive from its economic relations with countries like Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Turkey versus Israel.

Is it worth it for Beijing to jeopardize its relations with vast markets like those in Indonesia, Algeria, Turkey, and Iran for the sake of Israel?

If policymakers in Beijing begin asking this question and Muslim governments nudge Beijing to examine this issue, Israel will not be part of the new emerging economic global order centered on multipolarity and China’s important role in it.

Both on political and economic levels, Israel is a liability for China.

However, Israel does have one important carrot it can offer to Beijing: influence of the Zionist lobby on Western political systems.

China would gladly utilize this tool to keep Western economies open for trade on favorable terms.

This, however, depends on how current tensions between China and the West continue to play out.

For the time being, NATO regimes have painted China as a threat and project it as a fundamental narrative for their global geopolitical strategy.

This narrative is not going to be shelved soon.

China understands this well and it is diversifying its economic activities by pivoting to Asia and Africa.

Thus, Israel’s carrot will soon become less appealing to China.

While China does not have an ideological or strong geopolitical commitment to the Palestinian cause, Beijing is a highly pragmatic state actor.

Strictly within a pragmatic framework, it does not make sense for China to jeopardize its economic and political relations with several influential countries over a settler-colonial regime allied with China’s adversaries.

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