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China's Support for Hamas


October 7th





In a Nutshell

China's long-standing relationship with Palestinian organizations, including Hamas, is rooted in ideological, strategic, and geopolitical factors. Historically, China's Marxist-Leninist ideology under Mao Zedong, emphasizing anti-imperialism, led to support for groups opposing Western influence, like Hamas. This support is part of China's broader geopolitical strategy to gain influence in the Middle East, a region crucial for its energy resources and global politics.

By supporting Palestinian groups, China counters Western, especially U.S., influence, aligning with its aim to challenge the Western-dominated world order. China's pragmatic foreign policy, driven by diplomatic considerations, strengthens ties with Arab and Muslim-majority nations, crucial for economic and strategic interests. China's non-interference policy allows engagement with a wide range of actors, including controversial ones by Western standards.


Historically, China supplied weapons and ammunition to Palestinian groups in the 1960s and provided ideological and military training to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Palestinian leaders, including Yasser Arafat and George Habash, acknowledged China's significant support. Mao Zedong's statements in 1965 highlighted a shared struggle against Western imperialism.

China's influence extended beyond military support to ideological guidance, with Mao's writings being influential among PLO members. This support later included Hamas and Hezbollah, with China also facilitating financial transactions for terrorist activities through the Bank of China. Legal actions against the bank by families affected by these funded attacks faced diplomatic hurdles.

Full Story

The Full Story

There is a long-standing relationship between China and Palestinian organizations, including military, financial, and ideological support, particularly during the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st century.
China's support for Palestinian groups, including Hamas, can be understood through a combination of ideological, strategic, and geopolitical factors:

  1. Ideological Alignment and Anti-Imperialism: Historically, China's foreign policy, especially under Mao Zedong, was heavily influenced by Marxist-Leninist ideology, which emphasizes anti-imperialism and support for liberation movements around the world. This ideological stance often led China to support groups that it perceived as fighting against Western imperialism and colonialism. In the context of the Middle East, Palestinian groups, including Hamas, have been seen as part of a broader struggle against Western influence and presence in the region.

  2. Geopolitical Strategy: China's support for Palestinian groups can also be seen as part of a broader geopolitical strategy. By supporting these groups, China positions itself as a key player in Middle Eastern politics, potentially gaining influence in a region that is strategically important due to its energy resources and its central role in global geopolitics.

  3. Balancing Global Influence: Supporting Palestinian groups allows China to counterbalance the influence of Western powers, particularly the United States, in the Middle East. This support can be interpreted as part of China's strategy to present itself as an alternative global power that challenges the existing Western-dominated world order.

  4. Diplomatic Considerations: China's foreign policy is also driven by pragmatic diplomatic considerations. By supporting Palestinian groups, China can strengthen its relationships with Arab countries and Muslim-majority nations, which are important for China's economic and strategic interests.

  5. Non-Interference Policy: China's principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries allows it to engage with various groups and states based on pragmatic considerations rather than ideological alignment. This principle enables China to maintain relations with a wide range of actors, including those considered controversial or problematic by Western standards.


  1. Early Relations (1960s): The relationship between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Palestinians began to warm in the 1960s. China's army started supplying large quantities of weapons and ammunition to Palestinian terrorist organizations.

  2. Support for Armed Struggle: Hani El-Hassan, a political advisor to Yasser Arafat, mentioned that between 1964 and 1970, Palestinians fought with weapons made in China, indicating that the CCP was a primary supplier. Israeli intelligence estimated the value of weapons transferred from China to the Palestinians during this period at about $5 million (equivalent to about $30 million today). These shipments included rifles, hand grenades, gunpowder, mines, and other explosives.

  3. Ideological and Military Training: The CCP also provided ideological inspiration and military training to members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), inviting them to training camps in China.

  4. Statements by Palestinian Leaders: Palestinian leaders have historically acknowledged China's significant influence and support. Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the PLO, once stated that the People's Republic of China was the greatest influence in supporting their revolution and strengthening their perseverance. George Habash, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, declared in 1970 that China was their best ally and wanted Israel to be wiped off the map.

  5. Mao Zedong's Statements: Mao Zedong, in 1965, expressed his view that Western imperialism feared both China and the Arabs, and he saw Israel and Taiwan as imperialist bases in Asia. He emphasized the shared struggle of the Palestinians and the Chinese against these entities.

  6. Continued Support and Influence: The CCP's influence on the Palestinians was not only military but also ideological. Mao's political and military works were seen as an unlimited source of guidance in their struggle for liberation. The "Little Red Book" of Mao's quotations and other writings became recommended reading among PLO members in the 1970s.

  7. Support Extending to Hamas and Hezbollah: The CCP not only armed the Palestinians but also extended support to Iran and Syria. Missile shipments from China even reached Hamas and Hezbollah.

  8. Financial Transactions through Bank of China: In 2005, it was discovered that the leadership of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Iran and Syria were transferring funds for terrorist activities in Gaza and the West Bank through the Bank of China, owned by the Chinese government. Despite presenting this information to Chinese officials, the bank continued to allow these transactions.

  9. Legal Actions: Legal proceedings were initiated against the Bank of China by 22 families affected by terrorist attacks funded through the bank. However, due to diplomatic pressures, the case collapsed when Israel prevented a key witness from testifying.



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