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VOA Asia Weekly: US Presses China to Mediate in the Israel-Hamas War

VOA Asia Weekly: US Presses China to Mediate in the Israel-Hamas War
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US President Joe Biden visits Israel. Chinese and Russian leaders meet at China's Belt and Road Initiative Summit. Indonesia's top court ruling could enable President Joko Widodo's son to run for VP. Taylor Swift's concert film sets box-office record.

Why the U.S. is pressing China to mediate in the Israel-Hamas war.

Welcome to VOA Asia Weekly. I'm Chris Casquejo in Washington. That story is coming up, but first, making headlines:

Jordan canceled a planned summit of Middle East leaders with U.S. President Joe Biden after an explosion at a hospital in Gaza City killed at least 500 people. During his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden characterized the October 7th Hamas attack as “almost beyond belief” and assured continued U.S. support for Israel. He said quote “an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group" in Gaza was likely to blame in the hospital tragedy while announcing $100 million in aid for Gaza and the West Bank.

China's President Xi Jinping met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and other world leaders this week to discuss a revamped version of Xi’s signature “Belt and Road” investment initiative. The two leaders also discussed the Israel-Hamas war and other issues.

Indonesia's top court ruled against lowering the minimum age of presidential and vice-presidential candidates on Monday as the country prepares for its February 2024 election. The ruling includes an exception for those who have served or been elected as regional leaders, allowing them to run at a younger age. This decision could potentially pave the way for President Joko Widodo's eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, to run for vice president in next year’s election.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that Chinese citizens in Israel who wish to return home must purchase tickets for themselves on commercial flights. She advised them to fly back to China as soon as possible.

China is sending a special envoy to the Middle East to facilitate a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict. VOA State Department Bureau Chief Nike Ching has more.

Israel launched a new barrage of airstrikes on Gaza on Monday as it vowed to wipe out Hamas militant control of the narrow strip of Palestinian territory. This action took place amid a diplomatic push to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in the area.

China is sending a special envoy to the region, signaling its willingness to deepen its involvement in facilitating a potential cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

The United States has warned Iran and other countries to not take advantage of the conflict.

The U.S. has also urged China to use its influence in the Middle East to prevent state or non-state actors from attacking Israel and widening its war with Hamas.

China maintains a warm relationship with Iran. In March, China bridged a normalization deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“The Chinese were able to pull this off because of their relationship with both sides. China also has very significant economic and natural resource interests, the long-term contract for oil with Iran, for which it has now deployed some naval assets to ensure the security of oil and gas exports. So, in both respects, both diplomatic and economic and military, all of these respects, China's role is growing.”

Some U.S. officials are skeptical that China can broker a long-lasting political settlement to the decades-long Israeli–Palestinian conflict, pointing out that Iran is a historic supporter of Hamas. China has condemned “actions against civilians” but has not condemned Hamas explicitly.

Nike Ching, VOA News, Washington.

A senior unnamed member of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday that Hamas attacks on Israel may have used rocket-propelled grenades and artillery shells supplied by North Korea. VOA spoke with a former U.S. diplomat, who said North Korea has always been willing to sell arms to the highest bidder. “As long as the Kim dynasty rules North Korea, we are going to be faced with this prospect of conflict. And we're going to be faced with not only conventional conflict, but a nuclear conflict as well.”

Visit for the most up-to-date stories.

I’m Chris Casquejo.

And now, Taylor Swift is back in the spotlight as her concert film sold 123.5 million dollars’ worth of tickets worldwide over the weekend.

Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly.