In an unusual move, Chinese President Xi Jinping strengthened China’s statement condemning the attacks in Israel and the Gaza Strip after coming under pressure from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday.
China, in an updated statement through a foreign ministry spokesperson, condemned “all violence and attacks on civilians” and said “the most urgent task now is to reach a ceasefire and restore peace.”
The stronger statement after Schumer expressed his disappointment with an earlier statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that merely called for restraint.
“I raised with President Xi the unfolding atrocities carried out against Israel and the need for the world community to stand together against terrorism and with the Israeli people, and pointedly requested from President Xi that the Chinese Foreign Minister strengthen their statement; they did,” Schumer said in a Monday statement.
China’s foreign ministry on Sunday said: “We call on relevant parties to remain calm, exercise restraint and immediately end the hostilities to protect civilians and avoid further deterioration of the situation.”
Schumer said that statement didn’t go far enough. He told Xi on Monday he was “very disappointed” that China’s government had not condemned the attacks on 22 Israeli towns by Hamas militants in stronger terms.
“The ongoing events in Israel over the past few days are horrific,” Schumer told Xi in a meeting. “I urge you and the Chinese people to stand with the Israeli people and condemn these cowardly and vicious attacks.”
He criticized China’s foreign ministry’s initial statement as showing “no sympathy or support for Israel during these troubled times.”
Schumer met with Xi for 80 minutes in Beijing on Monday as part of a delegation of six senators.
The Democratic leader also told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi he was not satisfied with China’s initial statement responding to the attacks on Israeli civilians.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson later said China is “deeply saddened by civilian casualties caused by the conflict between Palestine and Israel.”