(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Beijing on Monday for a four-day visit in search of political and economic support.
Abbas is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, according to Wafa, the official PA news agency. Abbas last visited China in May 2013.
Abbas Zaki, a Fatah official in charge of managing relations between China and the Palestinians, told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas’s visit comes at a “crucial” time, as the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress is set to take place this fall. The Chinese Communist Party is the ruling power in China and its congress is held every five years.
“The party congress will set Chinese policy regarding the Palestinian issue for the coming years,” Zaki said in a phone interview. “It is important for President Abbas to convey our positions to him [Xi] before it convenes.”
According to Zaki, Abbas will ask Xi to continue to support the Palestinians in international forums and increase its investment in the Palestinian territories.
“There are a number of projects the two presidents will discuss including investing in an industrial zone in Tarqumiya and electricity infrastructure,” Zaki said.
China has a long history of backing the Palestinians. Former chairman Mao Zedong supplied then PLO leader Yasser Arafat with weapons and cash in the 1960s. More recently, China has stood behind Palestinian initiatives in international forums, voting in favor of making Palestine a UN non-member observer in 2012.
Zaki also dismissed that Israel and China are significantly improving their ties without major advancements in the peace process.
“We know that China has interests in Israel, but it also has values and will not turn its back on Palestinian rights,” Zaki said. “It does not only operate according to economic interests – China is a gift of God.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited China in March, where he and his accompanying delegations signed a dozen bilateral agreements with Chinese leaders to enhance cooperation on technology and innovation.
“I believe this is a marriage made in heaven,” Netanyahu said of Chinese-Israeli relations during his visit to Beijing.
In addition to meeting Xi, Abbas will deliver a speech on Wednesday and meet with the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other Chinese officials.