Beijing opinion: too early to write Arafat off

June 25, next day after President Bush announced his peace initiative based mostly on the demand to remove Yasser Arafat from the political scene, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao gave his positive estimates of the initiative. However, his words “ President Arafat is elected by the Palestinian people and recognized by the world community” did not demonstrate China’s distinct attitude toward the Palestinian leader.

A couple of months ago Chinese press called Israel’s actions in Palestine a WWII Nazi Holocaust. It was reported, as far as Palestinians saw no changes for the better, “they had no other way out but only take arms to fight for their rights and dignity.” China traditionally connected struggle of Palestinians and Mideast conflict on the whole with Arafat’s personality. So, the statement made on June 25 sounds like a recognition that it was time for China to wash its hands of the Mideast conflict. (The situation reminds of that one connected with Milosevic: the politician, so much popular in China, was erased from its memory as soon as it became evident that opposition to the USA was useless.)

However, many objects of China’s economic and political concern are situated in the Middle East. This is confirmed by April visits to Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji to the region. The leaders, certainly followed different routes: Jiang Zemin visited “axis of evil” countries: Iran and Libya.

At the time when the US Mideast policy has gone bankrupt, other countries sponsoring the peace process (Russia included) are inactive. China decided to use the opportunity to raise its role. Palestine crisis situation may serve a key to it.

PRAVDA.Ru already published its supposition that China’s policy aimed at support to Palestinians would likely remain valid. Recent events are a confirmation to it. After a short pause, Chinese diplomats have made a logic step: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman voiced China’s support to Arafat.

So, China by now is the only of the world largest powers that has turned down the key issue of Bush’s peace initiative and openly says about solidarity with Yasser Arafat. A conclusion can be drawn from it: Beijing calculated that the stake on Arafat would not be a failure.

Andrey Krushinsky PRAVDA.Ru Beijing

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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