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China deploys warships to the Middle East amid rising Israel-Hamas tensions

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Amid escalating tensions in the Middle East, China has deployed six warships to the region, including a guided-missile destroyer, marking a significant move that underscores China’s active role in the area during these heightened circumstances. The presence of these vessels has raised concerns of a wider conflict as the United States also responds by deploying its most advanced aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R Ford, and other nations mobilize to evacuate their nationals from Israel.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has dispatched six warships to the Middle East as part of the PLA’s 44th naval escort task force. This fleet includes the Type 052D guided-missile destroyer, Zibo, the frigate Jingzhou, and the integrated supply ship Qiandaohu. On October 14, these ships departed from Muscat, with their final destination undisclosed, as reported by Chinese state media. This naval presence signifies China’s active role in the region during the ongoing crisis.

In response to the situation, the United States has also moved its most advanced aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R Ford, and a battle group to the West Asia region. Several other countries, including Britain, Germany, and France, have sent military or civilian planes to evacuate their nationals from Israel.

While China has not formally announced an evacuation plan, the Chinese foreign ministry has advised its citizens to leave the area as soon as possible, recommending the use of commercial flights. Notably, China has previously utilized similar escort warships, like the ones currently in the region, for evacuations. In May, China deployed a supply ship and a Type 052D destroyer to evacuate over 1,000 individuals, including Chinese, Brazilians, and Pakistanis, from areas affected by armed conflicts. In 2015, Chinese warships also played a vital role in evacuating 225 foreigners and nearly 600 Chinese nationals from Yemen.

On October 19, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated China’s long-standing position in favor of establishing a sovereign state of Palestine, as reported by state media. President Xi emphasized that this approach represents “the fundamental way” to resolve the ongoing conflict in the region and called for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further escalation and avert a potential humanitarian crisis.

As the situation in the Middle East continues to evolve, China’s deployment of warships adds a new dimension to the complex dynamics in the region. The international community is closely monitoring the situation and working to de-escalate tensions for the sake of regional stability.

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