BEIJING — China criticized Mitt Romney on Tuesday, saying the U.S. presidential candidate's statement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel could worsen an already tense Mideast situation, or even re-ignite a war between Palestinians and Israelis.
A commentary Tuesday by the official Xinhua News Agency said Romney's "hawkish remarks" ignored the sensitive nature of Jerusalem. It said the comments disregarded the Palestinians' claim to the war-won eastern sector of the city, which was annexed by Israel in 1967 in a move that is not internationally recognized.
Romney also suggested during a trip to Israel that he was open to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something the Israelis have long sought but the U.S. has refused to do because it would imply recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the entire city.
"Romney's remarks totally neglect historical facts and are actually irresponsible if he just meant to appeal to voters at home," Xinhua said.
Romney, who was on an overseas trip that also included stops in Britain and Poland to bolster his image ahead of the election, has previously upset some in China by threatening tougher action on Beijing in trade disputes if he is elected president.
Xinhua said Romney's "radical words" on Israel were aimed at winning over U.S. Jewish voters in the presidential election in November, adding that the "status of Jerusalem will not be resolved until a comprehensive solution is found to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
Palestinians said Romney didn't understand the complexities of one of the world's most intractable conflicts. Palestinian critics accused Romney of snubbing the Palestinians' president, dismissing their claims to Jerusalem and suggesting their culture is inferior to Israel's.