In Indonesia, Chinese foreign minister says US is preventing ceasefire in Gaza

Wang Yi says Washington appears to believe ‘international law a tool that can be used whenever it finds useful and discarded if it does not want to use it’

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his bilateral meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/Pool Photo via AP)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his bilateral meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/Pool Photo via AP)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, after a meeting with his counterpart in Indonesia, attacked the United States Thursday for blocking United Nations resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The Chinese and Indonesian foreign ministers reiterated their countries’ calls for an immediate and lasting ceasefire in Gaza after a meeting in Jakarta, condemning the humanitarian costs of Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas.

The US, together with Egypt and Qatar, brokered a brief ceasefire earlier in the war that included some swaps of hostages taken by Hamas and other terror groups in return for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, and has sought to bring about a new deal.

The US vetoed a number of proposed UN Security Council ceasefire resolutions because they didn’t tie the calls directly to the release of Israeli hostages or condemn Hamas’s attack that prompted the war. It eventually allowed a resolution to a pass with an abstention in late March, sparking Israeli anger.

The meeting took place on the second day of a six-day tour during which Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will also visit Papua New Guinea and Cambodia.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters that the two countries share the same view about the importance of a ceasefire and of resolving the Palestinian problem through a two-state solution.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, walks with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi during their bilateral meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (Willy Kurniawan/Pool Photo via AP)

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, has long been a strong supporter of the Palestinians and does not recognize Israel (though recent reports have indicated this may soon change as part of the country’s efforts to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, of which Israel is a member).

“I am sure that China would use its influence to prevent escalation,” Marsudi said, adding that China and Indonesia “would also fully support Palestine’s membership in the UN.”

Wang blamed the United States for holding up ceasefire resolutions at the UN.

“The conflict in Gaza has lasted for half a year and caused a rare humanitarian tragedy in the 21st century. The United Nations Security Council responded to the call of the international community and continued to review the resolution draft on the ceasefire in Gaza, but it was repeatedly vetoed by the United States,” Wang told reporters.

American officials have argued that the ceasefire and hostage releases are linked, while Russia, China and many other council members favor unconditional calls for a ceasefire. China and Russia also vetoed one US-backed ceasefire resolution, saying it was not strong enough.

Referring to the resolution that was eventually approved by the Security Council in March, Wang said: “This time, the US did not dare to stand in opposition to international morality and chose to abstain. However, the US claimed that this resolution was not binding,” Wang said. “In the eyes of the United States, international law seems to be a tool that can be used whenever it finds useful and discarded if it does not want to use it.”

The two ministers also discussed their countries’ economic relationship and the South China Sea.

In this photo provided by the Indonesian Presidential Palace, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi , left, shakes hands with Indonesia President Joko Widodo during a meeting at the palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (Vico/Indonesian Presidential Palace via AP)

China is Indonesia’s largest trading partner, with the trade volume reaching more than $127 billion. China is also one of Indonesia’s largest foreign investors, with investment flows of more than $7.4 billion in 2023.

Later Thursday, Wang also met Indonesian President Joko Widodo and president-elect Prabowo Subianto, who is currently defense minister.

The war between Israel and Hamas broke out following Hamas’s October 7 attack on the country, in which terrorists killed nearly 1,200 people and kidnapped 253.

The ensuing Israeli offensive against Hamas has killed over 33,000 people, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. This figure cannot be independently verified and includes some 13,000 Hamas gunmen Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7. Meanwhile, 260 Israel soldiers have been killed in the offensive.

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