Fan Hongda

Fan Hongda

Professor, Middle East Studies Institute, Shanghai International Studies University

Fan Hongda is a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, China, and currently a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. He is mainly engaged in the study of Middle Eastern politics and international relations and has published four monographs and various academic articles. Since 2010, he has continued to conduct in-depth studies in Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. 

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment on 22 January 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP)

Chinese academic: The Middle East today is not in a worse state

Academic Fan Hongda argues that viewed against its modern history filled with contradictions and struggles, the Middle East is not in a worse state today, despite the recent rise in military operations in a short span of time.
Palestinians inspect the destruction caused by Israeli strikes on their homes in the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Yunis near the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on 27 November 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and Hamas. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Chinese academic: What China wants to see from the Gaza-Israel war

Academic Fan Hongda says that the Gaza-Israel war is dividing the world on the lines of whether or not they are on the side of the G7. Although there has been no large-scale military spillover yet, the political spillover of the Gaza-Israel war is obvious. For China, a stable and peaceful Middle East is what it wants most. Thus, it has a great stake in pushing for an end to the war.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at San Francisco International Airport to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Week in San Francisco, California, US, on 14 November 2023. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP)

Chinese academic: Can California sunshine warm Sino-US relations?

As the leaders of two largest world economies meet in San Francisco this week, Fan Hongda, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, explains why there are good reasons for the US and China to cooperate, both in the interests of international relations and bilateral ties.
Smoke billows following Israeli strikes amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza, on 13 October 2023. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

Chinese academic: No country can mediate the Israeli–Palestinian conflict

In the absence of a solution to the Palestinian issue, the Palestine-Israel peace process will be at a stalemate, unless Israel is able to completely destroy Hamas and other Palestinian anti-Israel forces. In the short term, Israel’s stance on Palestine, especially the Gaza Strip, is likely to harden, says Chinese academic Fan Hongda.
Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission attends a meeting with Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani and Minister of State and national security adviser of Saudi Arabia Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban in Beijing, China, 10 March 2023. (China Daily via Reuters)

Differences between the US and China in Middle East peace advocacy

China’s success in mediating peace between long-term rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran has highlighted the major power’s role as a key player in security in the Middle East. While some international media take it as a sign of China’s ambitions, academic Fan Hongda feels that the peace deal has addressed a common need for all parties, and China has its own way of promoting peace in the region.
This UGC image posted on Twitter reportedly on 26 October 2022 shows an unveiled woman standing on top of a vehicle as thousands make their way towards Aichi cemetery in Saqez, Mahsa Amini's home town in the western Iranian province of Kurdistan, to mark 40 days since her death, defying heightened security measures as part of a bloody crackdown on women-led protests. (UGC/AFP)

What China can learn from the Iran protests

The protests in Iran following the death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini seem to have put the authorities on the back foot, worsened by the missteps in its responses. The current protests in China have also clearly taken the Chinese government by surprise. Academic Fan Hongda notes that the Chinese authorities can take the example of Iran to see what moves to avoid.
A newspaper with a cover picture of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by Iranian morality police is seen in Tehran, Iran, 18 September 2022. (Majid Asgaripour/West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

Can China stay silent about mass protests in Iran?

Even as the protests in Iran continue after more than a month with no sign of abating, all efforts seem futile as external support is not forthcoming. There looks to be little hope of permanent change as the current regime remains firmly in control. Meanwhile, as China expands its global influence, can it stay silent in dealing with the internal affairs of Iran and other countries? Or remove reports of protests from their state media?
People shop at the Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran, on 13 June 2022. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iran seeks greater regional role through full membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

While some pundits have it that Iran sees gaining full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in terms of geopolitics, Fan Hongda thinks that the more bread-and-butter concern of strengthening economic and trade cooperation is on its mind. But this is not to say that Iran does not harbour ambitions of playing a greater regional role.
Ukrainian servicemen run at the front line east of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 31 March 2022. (Fadel Senna/AFP)

China must reflect on its third-party position in the Russia-Ukraine war

Despite being a third party to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, China has been hit with heavy criticism from the Western powers, especially the US, about its position in the war. Chinese academic Fan Hongda believes that while the West does have a powerful media machine behind it that paints China in an unfavourable light, the latter also needs to reflect on its responses to external conflicts, and its lack of domestic channels for the Chinese to voice their diverse views.