BEIJING, Oct 9 (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday called on Chinese President Xi Jinping to support Israel after deadly attacks by Hamas, saying he was disappointed Beijing had not shown “sympathy” for the country over the weekend. .
State media accounts of the meeting ignored Israel, focusing instead on the need for cooperation and mutual respect, and offering Xi’s bleak remarks to help lay the groundwork for a possible summit with US President Joe Biden next month.
Militants of the Islamist group Hamas attacked Israeli towns on Saturday, killing 700 Israelis and kidnapping dozens, the worst incursion into Israeli territory since attacks by Egypt and Syria in the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago. In response, Israel attacked Gaza, killing hundreds of Palestinians.
In response, China’s foreign ministry in a weekend statement urged “relevant parties” to remain calm and end hostilities to protect civilians, adding that “the basic way out of the conflict is to implement a two-state solution and establish an independent state of Palestine”.
Schumer is leading a rare bipartisan congressional delegation on an Asia trip that includes stops in South Korea and Japan. It aims to advance the economic and national security interests of the United States.
“The events of the past few days in Israel are nothing short of horrific. I urge you and the Chinese people to stand with the Israeli people and condemn the cowardly and brutal attacks,” Schumer told Xi in Beijing.
“I say this with respect, but I am disappointed by the foreign minister’s statement that shows no sympathy or support for the Israeli people in these troubled times,” he added.
Asked about Schumer’s comments, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning told a regular briefing on Monday that China was “very concerned” about the expansion. “We are deeply saddened by the civilian casualties in the conflict and oppose and condemn such acts against civilians,” he said.
Mao said China would call for a ceasefire to avoid further casualties.
After passing a major bill last year to increase competition with China in semiconductors and other technologies, Schumer and Democratic caucus leaders said in May they would write legislation to restrict the flow of technology to China, prevent it from starting a conflict with Taiwan and toughen rules. Prevent US capital from going to Chinese companies.
On Monday, Schumer reiterated that the main purpose of the trip was economic reciprocity and creating a balance for American businesses in China, and assured that Washington was not seeking confrontation with Beijing.
According to state broadcaster CCTV’s account of the meeting, Xi told Schumer that “competition and confrontation are not in keeping with the times, let alone solving their own problems and the challenges facing the world.”
He also said that “China always believes that the common interests of China and the United States outweigh their differences” and that the two countries’ success is an opportunity rather than a challenge to each other.
Contact between U.S. and Chinese officials has increased in recent months to bring some improvement in relations that have been strained for years over Taiwan, the origin of Covid-19 and allegations of Chinese espionage.
San Francisco will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November, and public attention is focused on whether Xi will attend the recent G20 summit in New Delhi, which Biden skipped.
Reporting by Antony Slotkowski, Yu Lun Tian and Liz Lee; By Bernard Orr; Editing by Kim Coghill and Gerry Doyle, Miral Fahmi and Sharon Singleton
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