Schumer Grateful for China's New Statement on Israel

US Senate majority leader was previously upset China didn't condemn Hamas attack
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 9, 2023 8:40 AM CDT
Updated Oct 10, 2023 12:30 AM CDT
Schumer Meets With China's Xi
Visiting US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, left, is greeted by Zhao Leji, chairman of China's National People's Congress, before their bilateral meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong, Pool)
UPDATE Oct 10, 2023 12:30 AM CDT

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday he was grateful for a strengthened statement from China condemning the killing and kidnapping of Israeli and foreign civilians by Hamas, issued during a bipartisan congressional visit to Beijing, the AP reports. Schumer told Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier in the day that he had been very disappointed by China's failure to strongly condemn the attack. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said later Monday that China is "deeply saddened by the civilian casualties caused by the conflict between Palestine and Israel." "China opposes and condemns acts that harm civilians," along with actions that "expand conflict and undermine regional stability," Mao said, going beyond an initial Foreign Ministry statement on Sunday. "I'm gratified the Foreign Ministry issued a new statement that did condemn the loss of civilian life," Schumer later told reporters.

Oct 9, 2023 8:40 AM CDT

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Chinese President Xi Jinping in a rare meeting Monday that he was "very disappointed" by China's failure to strongly condemn the recent Hamas attack on Israel and show sympathy for the country and its people. Schumer is leading a delegation of six senators to China this week. The delegation, which includes three Democrats and three Republicans, is the first visit by US lawmakers since 2019 and comes at a time of growing attacks on China in Congress as America contends with Beijing's rise as a global power. "I urge you and the Chinese people to stand with the Israeli people and condemn these cowardly and vicious attacks," said Schumer, per the AP.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry statement on Sunday called on both sides to exercise restraint and immediately end the hostilities—but made no mention of the unprecedented Hamas surprise attack early Saturday that has left more than 1,100 dead in fighting so far and thousands wounded on both sides. On Monday, Israeli soldiers were still fighting the militants to secure the border with Gaza. In the ministry statement, China also said that establishing an independent state of Palestine is the fundamental way to resolve the issue. "The recurrence of the conflict shows once again that the protracted standstill of the peace process cannot go on," the statement said, adding that the international community needs to act with greater urgency and facilitate the resumption of peace talks.

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The two governments are trying to arrange a meeting between President Biden and Xi during a regional summit in San Francisco next month in a bid to manage the increasingly fraught relationship. China has traditionally backed the Palestinian cause but has also boosted ties with Israel as it seeks a larger role in trade, technology, and diplomacy. In recent years, it has stepped up its involvement in the Middle East, assisting in the restoration of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran and welcoming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on a visit to China. "I was very disappointed, to be honest, by the Foreign Ministry statement that showed no sympathy or support for Israel during these troubled times," Schumer said near the end of his remarks to Xi. He said that the top priority for the Senate delegation is seeking fair trade between the two countries.

(More Chuck Schumer stories.)

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