Chinese President Xi Jinping and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recently held a rare meeting in Hangzhou, China, marking a significant event in the diplomatic world. During their talks, President Xi urged Western countries to lift sanctions on Syria and offered China’s support in rebuilding the war-torn country.
President Xi’s endorsement is a major boost to Bashar al-Assad’s campaign for his return to the global stage and is strengthening Syria’s ties with China. China has long been opposed to external interference in Syria’s internal affairs and has consistently called for the lifting of what it deems as illegal unilateral sanctions.
Moreover, China’s increased presence in the Middle East aligns with its efforts to build strategic alliances. Alongside Iran and Saudi Arabia, China aims to enhance its regional influence. Analysts note that this meeting between Xi and Assad can be likened to the notable rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
The Belt and Road Initiative established by China has also played a part in this evolving relationship. Syria joined the initiative last year, opening up new avenues for economic cooperation. In May, Syria was welcomed back into the Arab League, further reinforcing the notion of a “strategic partnership” between China and Syria. This partnership indicates closer coordination on both regional and international affairs.
However, challenges remain for Syria in attracting foreign investment. Despite China’s support, there are concerns that Chinese firms may be hesitant to invest in Syria due to the risk of facing US sanctions. Additionally, the country’s poor security and financial situation present further obstacles for potential investors.
China’s increased diplomatic engagement in the Middle East has not gone unnoticed. In fact, China played a significant role in brokering the Saudi Arabia-Iran deal that took place in March. China’s objective in the region is not only focused on economic development but also on promoting peace. By involving itself in resolving disputes, China hopes to contribute to a more stable and prosperous Middle East.
Overall, the meeting between Xi and Assad marks a crucial milestone in the evolving relationship between China and Syria. While Western sanctions and Syria’s challenges continue to pose hurdles, China’s support and involvement in rebuilding the war-torn country signal a new chapter in their partnership. With China’s growing presence in the Middle East, its role in promoting economic development and peace is poised to have a significant impact on the region.