Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was welcomed by his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began a visit to the eastern financial hub of Shanghai.
Netanyahu is due in Beijing on Wednesday following Abbas' departure a day earlier.
China's foreign ministry said last week it would be willing to help set up a meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu if the two men wanted. Talks between the Israeli and Palestinian sides have been deadlocked for four years and there was no indication a meeting would take place.
China has traditionally maintained a low profile in Middle East diplomacy, but in recent years has tried to play a more active role in the region as part of its quest for markets, resources and diplomatic influence.
Beijing has sought stable relations with both sides in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but has been criticized along with Russia by many for strongly opposing international intervention in Syria.