In a move furthering its influence around the globe, China has signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding free trade with the leadership of Palestine. According to Reuters, the Chinese government announced the new arrangement via their website on Wednesday.
During a recent trip to Palestine, China’s vice commerce minister Qian Keming met with his Palestinian counterpart, Abeer Odeh, and finalized the new agreement. The countries have a 30 year history of doing business together, and in 2017 the total amount of commerce done between the two equaled $69.28 million. According to Reuters, this is more than a 15 percent increase from 2016.
As Keming worked on signing the new MOU, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday to talk politics and diplomacy, according to Chinese state media. While speaking to reporters after the meeting, Qishan stated that China hopes for a “global effort” to resolve the “Palestinian issue” and develop a “two-state solution.”
“China stands ready to work with the international community to step up peace-promoting efforts, innovate on peace-promoting mechanisms, and make unremitting efforts in seeking a comprehensive, just and permanent solution to the Palestinian issue as soon as possible,” the vice president said.
China has been a long-time supporter of Palestine, and according to Vice President Qishan, the Asian superpower was one of the first countries “to recognize the State of Palestine.”
“The Palestinian side highly appreciates China’s steadfast support for the just cause of the Palestinian people as well as its objective and just stance on the Palestinian issue,” said Hamdallah, according to Chinese state media. “Palestine welcomes the four-point proposal put forward by President Xi on the Palestinian issue and expects China to play a bigger role in promoting the Middle East peace process.”
Qishan also praised the Palestinian support of China’s Belt and Road initiative, which aims to open trading routes from Asia to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
The Belt and Road initiative is the brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has already promised billions of dollars in loans to developing countries for infrastructure projects. According to Forbes, Xi pledged $60 billion to a coalition of African nations during the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and again in 2018.
XI has also recently signed a money-for-oil deal with Venezuela’s socialist ruler Nicolas Maduro.
Vice President Wang Qishan will also be making stops in Israel, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates before returning home.