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China expresses concern over Red Sea shipping attacks


A Chinese envoy on Wednesday expressed grave concern over the recent attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, urging an end to such attacks and calling on all parties to respect the freedom of navigation of all countries. 

Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, made the remarks at a UN Security Council's (UNSC) open meeting on Yemeni Houthi rebels' attack in the Red Sea amid growing concerns over global trade and regional stability due to the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict in Gaza.

Stressing that the Red Sea is an important waterway for goods and energy, Geng said that ensuring the smooth flow of the waters and the safety of passing ships not only contributes to regional peace and stability, but also to the maintenance of the security of the global supply chains and the international trade order, which is in line with the common interests of the international community.

"China believes that all parties, especially influential powers, should play a constructive and responsible role in maintaining the safety of shipping lanes in the Red Sea," Geng said.

The Chinese envoy also pointed out that current tensions pose a new challenge to the Yemeni political process and add complexity to the already volatile situation in the Middle East.

He called on relevant parties to exercise restrain and maintain a positive momentum towards a political settlement. 

Describing the current tension as a spillover effect of the conflict in Gaza, Geng said that the only way to avert further escalation in the Red Sea is to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza and provide humanitarian aid there. 

China is ready to work with all parties to continue to make unremitting efforts to promote the cooling of tensions in the Red Sea, the political settlement of the Yemeni issue, the realization of a cease-fire in Gaza, and long-term peace and stability in the Middle East, he added.

UN Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari told the council that "no cause or grievance" could justify the continuing Houthi attacks against freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, adding that all incidents originating in Houthi controlled areas "must stop."

He encouraged "all concerned parties" in the wider region to avoid any further escalation and de-escalate tensions and threats. He also called for a return to the regular flow of traffic to avoid the risk of Yemen being "dragged into a regional conflagration."

On Wednesday, the Houthi group launched missiles targeting a cargo ship in the Red Sea and vowed to continue to prevent Israeli ships or those heading to Israel from navigating in the Red Sea and the Arab Sea until food and medicine aid is allowed to enter the Gaza Strip.

The new attack came nearly three days after a military helicopter of the U.S. Navy forces patrolling the Red Sea shot and killed 10 Houthi militants and sank their three boats while they were trying to approach a merchant ship.

The UNSC issued a press statement on December 1, addressing the Houthi threat and condemning the attacks "in the strongest terms."

(Cover: File photo of Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations. /CFP)

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