Home inFocus The War of Independence 2.0 (Spring 2024) China’s Support of Hamas: Evidence and Actions

China’s Support of Hamas: Evidence and Actions

Guermantes Lailari Spring 2024

The October 7, 2023, Palestinian terror attack on Israel forced government officials and the public to ask a lot of questions about how this horrendous attack could have happened. The list of terrorist groups and their respective military wings in Gaza that committed the murderous attack are as follows:

  • Hamas (military wing: Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades)
  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Al-Quds Brigades)
  • Fatah (Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade)
  • Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (National Resistance Brigades)
  • Palestinian Mujahideen Movement (Mujahideen Brigades)
  • Popular Resistance Committees (Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades)
  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades)

Most people realize that the Islamic Republic of Iran provides money, equipment, training, intelligence, and diplomatic support to Gaza terror groups (as well as Lebanese Hezbollah, Houthis, and Iraqi, Syrian, and Bahraini terrorist groups—see CRS graphic below.

However, one connection that is rarely discussed in detail is the People’s Republic of China (PRC) support for terrorist groups. This article will examine Communist China’s support for Hamas and provide recommendations to counter China’s subversive actions.


The combined evidence presented below regarding the PRC’s contribution to global chaos is sufficient to present in a variety of international courts and in the court of public opinion to punish the PRC for the support it provided to Palestinian terror groups for harming (murdering, torturing, raping, and hostage-taking) citizens from more than 40 countries.

Strategic Environment: Motivations

  1. Middle Eastern observers knew that Saudi Arabia, the US, and Israel were going to announce an historic agreement in late September 2023. As early as March 2023, Saudi Arabia transmitted its conditions for Israeli recognition under the 2020 Abraham Accords framework. After intense negotiations, on September 22, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel was close to a “dramatic breakthrough”—a peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia supported by the US. In the peace deal, Saudi Arabia would benefit from US security guarantees (mutual defense treaty), fewer restrictions on arms sales, civilian nuclear assistance including uranium reprocessing in the Kingdom, and concessions to the Palestinians. The US would benefit from the agreement by uniting two of its strongest allies in the Middle East, and by limiting Saudi Arabia’s relationship with China. Consequently, the agreement would return Saudi to the US security umbrella and pull it away from the March 2023 PRC-brokered détente between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Recall that Saudi Arabia had also partially joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in March 2023 and Iran is a full SCO member. This explanation provides one major motivation for the PRC to interfere with any reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Israel along with US security assurances to Saudi Arabia.
  2.  On September 10, 2023, President Biden and the leaders of India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, (UAE) and European Union (EU) announced the launch of the India–Middle East–Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) during the G20 meeting in India. IMEC would create a new trade route connecting India to the Middle East and Europe through railways and ports. IMEC’s goods and services would travel through the Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Israel, and Europe. Clearly, these countries negotiated this agreement months before the September 2023 announcement and this IMEC initiative is an alternative and competitor to Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The October 7 terror attack on Israel placed this IMEC plan on hold.
  3. In March 2021, China and Iran signed a 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership agreement which came into effect in early 2022. The agreement includes security, intelligence, and defense sharing (joint military exercises and training, and research and weapons development) in exchange for a $400 billion sale of oil and gas to China at reduced prices. This agreement helped Iran avoid consequences of severe sanctions.

Chinese-Made Weapons

Multiple sources noted that the IDF found in Gaza large caches of Chinese weapons, intelligence gathering equipment, and other military supplies. The IDF found Chinese military equipment in Hamas warehouses, including large numbers of assault rifles (QBZ assault rifles) and grenade launchers (QLZ87 automatic grenade launchers), telescopic sights for rifles and cartridges for M16s, high-end communications equipment, listening devices, tactical military radios, and sophisticated explosives. The discovery of massive quantities of sophisticated Chinese explosives was alarming because Hamas only recently acquired such lethal explosives. Additionally, the IDF discovered Chinese rocket technology in one of Hamas’ laboratories.

In January 2024, the PRC denied providing Hamas with high-quality military equipment. Even if the Chinese military supplies discovered in Gaza were provided by Iran, PRC officials knew that Iran forwarded equipment to Hamas. Certainly Iran provided funding and training to use the equipment.

Chinese military technology is in missiles used by Iran-supported terror groups such as Hezbollah (Chinese-made C-802 anti-ship cruise missiles used by Hezbollah in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War), Houthis (anti-ship ballistic missile technology), and Iraqi militia groups.

Hamas Training

Prior to 2018, Hamas had collaborated with PIJ in attacks against Israel. After 2018, Hamas formed a larger coalition of 11 terrorist groups in Gaza.

Hamas conducted combined training four times with the ten other terrorist groups simulating parts of the October 7, 2023 attack on the following dates (code-named “Strong Pillar”): December 29, 2020, December 26, 2021, December 28, 2022, and finally on September 12, 2023 (September 10, Hamas and the other terrorist groups conducted surveillance of the Gaza border – almost a month before the attack). These drills were well-publicized by their respective media outlets such as Telegram.

The author suspects that the annual training schedule beginning in December 2020 was changed in 2023 because Hamas decided—or was directed—to prepare to attack Israel as soon as possible due to the looming strategic challenges of IMEC and reinvigorated US relations with Saudi Arabia described above.

Deif’s Training in China

Who is Mohammed Dief? Deif was born in 1965 in a refugee camp in Khan Younis. Sometime in the 1980s, he was graduated from the Islamic University in Gaza with a degree in science. His curriculum included courses in physics, chemistry, and biology.

Mohammed Deif is Hamas’ military wing leader; he planned and conducted the October 7 attack, also called “Al Aqsa Flood.” Deif along with Yehya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, coordinated the training with the 10 other terrorist groups for almost four years prior to the attack

What is Deif’s connection to China? In 1996, the PLO sent Deif to China, where he studied artillery and rocketry in the PLA General Armament Department’s Ordnance Engineering College in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, which included courses on artillery, rocketry, and explosives. During his time there, he married two Chinese Muslim women from Sarta or Dongxiang ethnicity in Gansu (China) and brought them to Gaza in 2000 after he completed his studies. Reports indicate that one of the Chinese wives opened a channel to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership to maintain CCP and Hamas communications.

One source claims that Ismail Haniyeh studied at Renmin University in Beijing and, perhaps, received training on other security topics.

What private or secret training did the PLA provide Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza? Intelligence gathered while the IDF is mapping and destroying the Hamas tunnel network provides some clues.

PLA Engineering Support

The Israeli name for the network of tunnels under Gaza is “Metro.” Construction of the Metro under Gaza (and into Israel and Egypt) is a massive undertaking; the tunnel network, if linked end-to-end, measures more than 350 miles. One source noted that PLA military advisors and tunnel warfare specialists helped design and build these tunnels.

What other PLA personnel have helped Hamas and to what extent?

PRC Ties Before October 7

Several suspicious events might indicate that China knew about the Hamas plans to invade Israel on October 7. Prior to that date, several meetings occurred, possibly related to pre-attack discussions:

  • April 17, 2023: PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh brought their respective delegations to Riyadh and met separately with the Saudi leadership. Haniyeh brought Saleh al-Arouri, his deputy, Mousa Abu Marzouk, a member of the Hamas political bureau, and Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas abroad. Haniyeh had not been to Saudi Arabia in more than ten years.
  • May 8-9, 2023: A senior Iranian delegation visited China and met with Liu Jianchao, the minister of the CCP’s International Liaison Department, and Wang Yi, Director of the CCP’s Central Foreign Affairs Office. They were feted in China with many other engagements.
  • June 13-16, 2023: PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with Xi Jinping in Beijing and issued a Joint Statement between the PRC and the State of Palestine on the establishment of Strategic Partnership.
  • July 17, 2023: Chinese Ambassador to Iran Chang Hua met with the Secretary General of the Iranian Expediency Discernment Council, Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr.
  • September 27, 2023: Syrian President Assad left his three young adult children in China after the Asian Games on September, 27 2023. As Jennifer Zhang noted, an ancient Chinese tradition of leaving your children under the care of a ruler was a pledge of loyalty (trust) and a means of protecting them.

After October 7

Since October 7, PRC has followed the classic Chinese communist ploy of deny and counter-accuse. China has not condemned the Hamas (and other terrorist organizations’) terror attack on Israel. In fact, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described Israel’s response to the terrorist attacks on October 14 as being “beyond the scope of self-defense” and requested Israel to “cease its collective punishment of the people of Gaza.”

Further comments by the PRC’s Special Envoy to the Middle East, who travelled to many countries in the region during the war (but not to Israel), focused on the cessation of hostilities, condemned civilian deaths and injuries, and promoted the “two-state solution” to solve the Palestinian issue. The PRC has not acknowledged the brutal terror attack against Israel. PRC diplomats blame Israel for the war.

The PRC has continued blaming the victim in the UN and the UN Security Council. Internally, the PRC has allowed PRC citizens to use antisemitic tropes and flagrant anti-Israel memes to reinforce bigotry in the social media and in news media. In a highly controlled communist media environment, what state officials say or do not say reflects the CCP’s views on the conflict.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Some maintain that the PRC uses Russia, Hamas, the Houthis, and others to conduct proxy wars against the US and its allies, such as Israel. For example, Frank Gaffney, director of the Center for Security Policy and a former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy during the Reagan Administration, claims that “The Chinese Communist Party was consulted about and quite possibly actually greenlighted the murderous Russian and jihadist invasions that now constitute two fronts in what may be heading the world into a larger conflict.”

Western intelligence agencies and senior policymakers certainly are aware of the evidence described above. Citizens from these countries should demand that their government release more details of China’s support of terror organizations, especially intelligence on the PRC’s support of Palestinian terror organizations involved in the October 7 attack. This declassified information would help countries, and their respective populations, to understand the CCP’s devious machinations around the world.

Governments, think tanks, organizations, companies, and individuals should challenge China’s position in the world especially with respect to Israel and its involvement with Hamas and other terror organizations. Furthermore, this challenge should also include the PRC’s relationship with Iran and Iran’s terror organizations.

Israel should pause its PRC relationship until an investigation determines the full extent of China’s involvement with Hamas’ and other terrorist organizations’ barbaric attack on October 7.

The US and other allies of Israel should investigate China’s support for global terror organizations. China has replaced the USSR in supporting terror groups across the globe. Below is a list of recommended actions that can be taken to challenge China’s support for terrorism:

  • De-classify and publicize the evidence of China’s support for terrorism, especially support to Hamas.
  • Shame China in world public opinion for its support for terrorism.
  • Conduct a boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against China for its support of terrorism (just as much of the world has done against Iran).
  • Establish watch groups to continuously collect evidence and publicize China’s support to terrorism.
  • Declare China as a state sponsor of terrorism. The PRC’s actions supporting terrorism are like Iran, Cuba, Syria, and North Korea (which are currently on the US list).
    • There are calls to add Russia to the US list of state sponsors of terrorism for its actions in Ukraine. China should not be exempt from the list just because of its superpower status.
    • The European Union already declared that Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism in 2022 and politicians in the US, UK, and other European countries are trying to get their individual countries to declare the same. This process should be duplicated against Communist China.
  • Open cases against the PRC at the United Nations International Criminal Court for conducting genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression due to its support of terrorist groups (regardless of whether the PRC signed the Rome Statute).
  • Encourage all member states whose citizens fell victim to the October 7 terror attacks in Israel to submit evidence against the PRC to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague. According to the ICJ web site: “(A) State may take up the case of one of its nationals and invoke against another State the wrongs which its national claims to have suffered at the hands of the latter; the dispute then becomes one between States.”
    • At least 35 countries should submit cases against China to the ICJ for the murder of their civilians and over 40 countries had their citizens taken hostage by a terrorist group supported by China. The four countries with the most murdered civilians are Israel (1,200), France (40 deaths), Thailand (39), and the US (34).

These steps would mitigate the wrong done to the October 7 victims by China’s support for Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza.

Recall the wisdom from Deuteronomy 16:20 “Justice, justice shall you pursue…”

Guermantes Lailari, a member of the JPC Board of Fellows, is a visiting Scholar at National Chengchi University and a retired USAF Foreign Area Officer.