© Reuters. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) holds a press conference during a break in a bipartisan Artificial Intelligence (AI) Insight Forum for all U.S. senators at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2023. REUTERS/Julia Nikhinson
By Antoni Slodkowski
BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday called on China to support Israel after deadly attacks by Hamas, adding he was “disappointed” that Beijing showed “no sympathy” for the country over the weekend.
Fighters from Islamist group Hamas killed 700 Israelis and abducted dozens more as they attacked Israeli towns on Saturday, the deadliest incursion into Israeli territory since Egypt and Syria’s attacks in the Yom Kippur war 50 years ago.
In response, China’s foreign ministry urged the “relevant parties” to remain calm and immediately end hostilities to protect civilians, adding that “the fundamental way out of the conflict lies in implementing the two-state solution and establishing an independent State of Palestine”.
Schumer is leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to Asia, which includes stops in South Korea and Japan. It aims to advance U.S. economic and national security interests, and in China, the group hopes to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“The ongoing events in Israel over the past few days are horrific. I urge you and the Chinese people to stand with the Israeli people and condemn these cowardly and vicious attacks,” Schumer said at a meeting with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, in Beijing.
“I was very disappointed, to be honest, by the Foreign Ministry statement that showed no sympathy or support for Israel during these troubled times,” he added.
Wang said China hoped that this visit can help the United States understand China in a more precise manner and help Washington see China in a more objective way, while managing existing contradictions more reasonably.
After passing a sweeping bill last year to boost competition with China in semiconductors and other technology, Schumer and Democratic committee leaders said in May they would write legislation to limit the flow of technology to China, deter it from initiating a conflict with Taiwan and tighten rules to block U.S. capital from going to Chinese companies.
On Monday, Schumer reiterated that the main objective of the trip was to seek economic reciprocity and the creation of a level playing field for U.S. businesses in China, and assured that Washington was not seeking conflict with Beijing.
“China must also provide a level playing field for American companies and workers. Many Americans, most Americans, including our delegation, do not believe we have that fairness now,” Schumer said.
The group of six senators, co-led by Republican Mike Crapo, will meet government and business leaders in the three countries they are visiting, and officials from U.S. companies operating in the region.
Other senators on the trip include Republicans Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, and Democrats Maggie Hassan and Jon Ossoff. The group landed in Shanghai on Saturday, where it held meetings with the business community over the weekend.
The trip comes after visits from a series of high-level Biden administration officials, including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in August.
Communication between U.S. and Chinese officials has increased in recent months, bringing some improvement in ties strained for years over issues such as Taiwan, the origins of COVID-19 and accusations of Chinese spying.
Schumer’s comments echo those made by Raimondo in August, when she said U.S. companies had complained to her that China has become “uninvestable”, pointing to fines, raids and other actions that made it risky to do business there.