China’s position as head of the United Nations Security Council gives it a powerful perch to help ease the bloodshed in the Middle East. So far, its strategy appears more focused on scoring points in its geopolitical battle with the U.S.

Beijing, which has long played an observer role in Middle East peace efforts, has used the rotating presidency of the Security Council to spotlight Washington’s reluctance to condemn Israel. Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the U.S. to "shoulder its due responsibilities,” while a ministry spokesman said Washington "only seeks selfish interests.”

The attacks have underscored how quickly any international dispute, including the decades-old stalemate over the Gaza Strip, can become entangled in the strategic struggle between the U.S. and China. For Beijing, the crisis provides an opportunity to counter U.S. President Joe Biden’s criticism of its treatment of its own Muslim minority in the region of Xinjiang.