US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reached out to his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi, urging China to leverage its influence in the Middle East to prevent further escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Blinken’s call to action was part of his efforts to garner support for Israel from Arab nations during his diplomatic tour of the region.
Blinken had been in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, prior to the call with Wang Yi. The aim of his visit was to strengthen backing for Israel among Arab nations. The US has expressed concerns about the potential for other actors, including state and non-state entities, to join the conflict, thus broadening the scope of the war.
One particular concern for the US is the possibility of Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia group based in Lebanon, getting involved in the conflict on Israel’s northern border. China’s close relations with Iran, along with its diplomatic role in facilitating improved relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia earlier in the year, make it an influential party in the region.
The call between Blinken and Wang Yi, which lasted approximately one hour, was made possible through diplomatic outreach by the Biden administration to Chinese leader Xi Jinping over the past few months. This outreach, including a trip by Blinken to Beijing in June, served to reopen lines of communication between the US and China after a period of tension.
The ongoing situation in the Middle East remains a critical concern for the international community, with various countries and diplomats working to prevent further escalation and find a path towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Blinken’s efforts in the region reflect the complex and multifaceted diplomacy involved in addressing the ongoing crisis.