Updated March 1st, 2024 at 16:54 IST

China Slams ‘Shocking’ Israel Firing at Gaza Civilians; Bashes US for auto Probe, Hong Kong Affairs

Palestinian witnesses say Israeli troops opened fire on a crowd of people scrambling for aid in Gaza City.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping. | Image:AP
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China said it was “shocked” after Israeli troops opened fire on civilians in Gaza City and condemned the incident. “China is shocked at this incident and strongly condemns it. We’re sending our condolences to the victims and extending our sympathy with the injured. China urges all parties concerned, especially Israel, to immediately cease fire and end the war, earnestly protect the safety of civilians, and ensure admission of humanitarian aids to prevent a more serious humanitarian disaster,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a daily briefing Friday.

On Thursday, Palestinian witnesses say Israeli troops opened fire on a crowd of people scrambling for aid in Gaza City. More than 100 people were killed and at least 700 wounded, according to Palestinian witnesses and Gaza’s Health Ministry. Israel said many of the dead were trampled in a chaotic stampede for the food aid and that its troops only fired when they felt endangered by the crowd.

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After the incident, Arab nations failed to get immediate support for a U.N. Security Council statement that would have blamed Israeli forces. The U.S. didn’t support the statement, and U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood told a reporter who questioned why, “We don’t have all the facts on the ground – that’s the problem.” When asked about this, Mao said the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unprecedented and urged the U.S., without naming it, to play a constructive role in promoting immediate ceasefire.

On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden ordered an investigation into Chinese-made “smart cars” that could gather sensitive information about Americans driving them, citing national security concerns. “China is determined to dominate the future of the auto market, including by using unfair practices,’' Biden said in a statement Thursday. “China’s policies could flood our market with its vehicles, posing risks to our national security. I’m not going to let that happen on my watch.’' In response, Mao said the popularity of Chinese vehicles relied on quality and innovation instead of what the U.S. described as “unfair practices.” She criticized the U.S. of politicalizing economic and trade issues and overstretching the concept of national security.

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“We urge the U.S. to respect market economy rules and principles of fair competition, stop overstretching the concept of national security, stop discriminating and suppressing Chinese enterprises, and earnestly maintain an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment,” she said.

Relations between China and the U.S. have soured in recent years due to increasing conflicts in a range of issues in trade, technology, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Biden administration and other western governments on Wednesday voiced their worries about Hong Kong’s plan for a local national security law.

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U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the United States is concerned over the proposed definition of state secrets and external interference “that could be used to eliminate dissent through the fear of arrest and detention,” as well as plans to apply the law extraterritorially. Mao said China “strongly deplores and firmly objects” the statement, and urged the U.S. to “immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong-related matters and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.”

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Published March 1st, 2024 at 16:54 IST