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Beijing backs Palestinian statehood

(China Daily)

09:29, September 08, 2011

BEIJING - China supports the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and appreciates efforts to push forward the process in peaceful talks, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday told the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a phone call that he is determined to go to the United Nations to bid for full membership.

Their conversation comes three weeks before the UN General Assembly meeting, when it will discuss a Palestinian request to recognize an independent Palestinian state.

Answering questions on China's stance on the request, spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at the ministry's daily media briefing that having their own state is an inalienable right of the Palestinian people, and also the basis on which Palestine and Israel can achieve peaceful coexistence.

"We understand, respect and support Palestine's plan to submit the issue to the UN."

China consistently supports the regaining of the Palestinian people's legal national rights and the establishment of an independent country with East Jerusalem as its capital and with full sovereignty, she added.

"It is good for the lasting stability of the Middle East," Jiang said.

If the UN bid succeeds, Abbas said the Palestinian Authority would discuss the details of a future Palestinian state in talks with Israel.

The move is opposed by both Israel and the United States, which threatened financial sanctions against the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Monday that the bid would "set back peace, and might set it back for years".

Negotiations between the two on Palestinian statehood have been frozen since 2008.

A total of 125 countries recognize the Palestinian state, according to a senior Palestinian official on Tuesday.

China established diplomatic relations with Palestine in 1988.

Zhang Xiaodong, a researcher with the West Asian and African Studies Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: "If Palestine's full UN membership is recognized, it will exert a substantial influence on the situation in the Middle East."

Arms sale opposed

Beijing on Wednesday also reiterated its objection to Washington arms sales to Taiwan, as the Obama administration is reportedly considering new military deals with the island.

"It's a matter of principle. China stoutly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan," Jiang said.

She also urged the US to abide by the principles of three Sino-US joint communiqus, especially the communiqu signed in 1982 in which Washington pledged to gradually reduce the level of and eventually stop arms sales to Taiwan.

The US should be "fully aware" of the harmfulness and sensitivity of the issue and stop arms sales to Taiwan in order to avoid damaging both Sino-US relations and cross-Straits relations, she added.

At a separate briefing on China's newly issued white paper on its peaceful development, which listed "national reunification" as one of the six categories of China's "core interests", Wang Yajun, a policy researcher under the Foreign Affairs Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that the policy on Taiwan is consistent.

"Even if we have the commitment to peaceful development, we will not do so at the expense of our core interests."

The refusal to abandon the use of force does not target Taiwan's people but the separatists, he added.

Taiwan is hoping to buy 66 late-model F-16 jets from the US to phase out its remaining F-5 fighters, and this sale is potentially worth more than $8 billion. The request for the new F-16s has been pending informally since 2006, and the island also requested in 2009 for an upgrade to its existing F-16 A/B jets.

Zheng Yangpeng, Zhang Yunbi, Xinhua and Reuters contributed to the story.

By Ma Liyao and Cui Haipei, China Daily

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