On December 17, 2023, Chinese professor and military expert Yun Hua, who is a faculty member at the PLA's National Defense University, shared a video on his Douyin account in which he said that the Houthis have done China a "big favor" by having "indirectly accelerated the shift from maritime to land transportation for Eurasian trade." He elaborated that this shift will likely benefit China's Belt and Road Initiative, which contributes to "China's international strategy to sever U.S. hegemony, undermine American sea power, and promote global multipolarity."
Yun Hua: "Just at the end of last month, the Houthi militants in Yemen announced a blockade of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the exit of the Suez Canal, against Israel. The Galaxy Leader, a vessel owned by a British company and an Israeli businessman, was seized earlier and is still docked in Yemen, even becoming a filming spot for many international internet celebrities. At the time, many believed this was a brand-new battlefield in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And these past few days, this battlefield has sent a dangerous signal, as the Houthis fired two missiles into the air, expanding their targets to the entire Western world.
"According to reports from Cailianpress, the container ship Al Jasrah, owned by a German company, recently suffered a drone attack by the Houthi militants, resulting in a major fire. A few hours later, another cargo ship, the Palatium III, operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) ignored the warnings issued by the Houthis and attempted to forcefully pass through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, only to be hit by two Houthi missiles. Regarding this incident, Houthi military spokesman Sare'e stated that these ships attempted to enter Israeli ports through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and disregarded warnings, so military action had to be taken.
"In the future, any ships heading for Israeli ports will face attacks in the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea. In fact, the Mediterranean Shipping Company is a Swiss company and the world's second-largest shipping company. If the previous incidents, such as seizing a Japanese-operated Israeli ship, attacking Israeli cargo ships, and targeting U.S. escort warships, can be seen as acts against Israeli actions in Gaza, then now targeting Swiss ships and German ships is a very dangerous signal.
"It signifies that the Houthi militants have shifted its blockade from targeting Israel to targeting the entire Western world.
"In a nutshell, the current situation is very tricky for the United States and the entire Western world. The Houthi militants may not pose a significant threat, but the timing is crucial. On the one hand, the United States is already heavily involved in the 'blood supply' of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and does not want to get into another prolonged war of attrition. On the other hand, the Western world, including the United States, has already invested heavily in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and is therefore reluctant to take the lead and become further involved.
"Very interestingly, U.S. National Security Advisor Sullivan mentioned the Houthi militants during his visit to Israel and said that an international coalition should be established to protect maritime routes and defend against Houthi attacks. To put it bluntly, the United States doesn't want to go out on its own but wants to gang up to make things happen.
"However, it's clear that this sort of thing will not be solved in the short term. In reality, the impact of this situation on the international landscape is still related to the issue of maritime routes. For example, the German company that was attacked recently announced that all its ships will adjust their routes and prepare to reroute around Africa to avoid the Suez Canal. The Danish shipping giant, Maersk Group, has also issued similar orders. However, rerouting around Africa involves not only increased transportation costs but also additional time costs, as we mentioned in our program in November.
"While the original intention of the Houthi militants was to target Israel, this action indirectly accelerated the shift from maritime to land transportation for Eurasian trade.
"For China, apart from the China-Europe railway, it's more about the Belt and Road Initiative to open up trade links between Europe and Asia.
"And the expansion of the latter is precisely our international strategy to sever U.S. hegemony, undermine American sea power, and promote global multipolarity. In a way, the Houthis have done us, China, a big favor."