The timing is at least interesting if not a diplomatic coup of sorts. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is in Beijing to meet with Chinese leaders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel will arrive on Wednesday. Supposedly, they will not meet.
Of course, a Chinese official made it clear to a New York Times reporter, the Foreign Ministry would be happy to help them have a chat. Indeed. Chinese officials would love to burnish their nation’s international stature by providing a setting for diplomatic progress.
Unlike the United States, China does not have the domestic ties with Israel that complicate most political and diplomatic dealings with Israelis.
Abbas had planned to ask China to use its influence with Israel to get the country to back off economic pressures on the Palestinian economy. China can mediate and advocate for change without inciting tensions at home.
The world is relying on China to use its influence very close to home with North Korea. If others in distant disputes turn to Beijing for help, that invites all manner of speculation about emerging roles and status for China.