The footage showed on Friday Syrian President Bashar al-Assad His wife, Asma, descends from an Air China plane in Hangzhou to be greeted by festive music like Chinese flags. China And Syria Wave. About 100 young people and children wearing colorful costumes gathered in rows and danced.
During his first visit to the country since 2004, Al-Assad met with his Chinese counterpart,Xi Jinping, Friday. On Saturday, the strongmen sat with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and other dignitaries at the opening ceremony of the Asian Games.
The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1956, but Assad, whose two trips took place nearly two decades apart, is the only Syrian president to have visited China. Assad became increasingly isolated internationally after his government’s crackdown on Arab Spring protests in 2011 and during the civil war that followed. His regime has been accused of war crimes such as the use of poison gas, explosive barrels, torture, and extrajudicial killing. In recent weeks, Anti-government protests These events have gained intensity in Syria following unpopular political decisions.
In May, Assad attended a major international meeting again for the first time since the outbreak of the conflict, and traveled to a country Arab League Jeddah Summit, Saudi Arabia. The organization agreed to return Syria after it was suspended for more than ten years due to the civil war, a decision that displeased Western leaders. Al-Assad’s visit to China may be a step towards further rehabilitation of diplomatic relations.
China Broadcasting Corporation CCTV covered The lion arrives in Hangzhou with a 35-minute live broadcast on the social media platform Sina Weibo — a rare amount of coverage with great symbolic power.
Xi then announced the establishment of a “strategic partnership” Between the two countries, according to readings of the meeting broadcast by CCTV.
“Facing the international situation full of instability and uncertainty, China is willing to continue working with Syria, firmly support each other, enhance friendly cooperation, and jointly defend international fairness and justice,” Xi said.
The president said China will support Syria in “resisting foreign interference and unilateral intimidation and maintaining national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.” He said China would help Syria “rebuild and strengthen its anti-terrorism capabilities.”
“The focus of this meeting is expected to revolve around persuading China to help the economic recovery in Syria,” Haid Haid, a consulting fellow at London-based think tank Chatham House, wrote on social media.
The Chinese government’s announcement after the meeting between Xi and Assad indicates that China wants to strengthen cooperation with Syria through… Belt and Road InitiativeAlso known as the New Silk Road, which Syria signed in 2022. This could lead to increased imports of high-value agricultural products from Syria. However, it remains to be seen how much financial assistance Assad will receive from the partnership.
Security Council support
Unlike Iran and Russia, China has not directly supported the Assad regime in the civil war. However, the country has provided significant support to the Assad government by joining Russia in using its veto power in the UN Security Council to block resolutions in Syria’s name on at least eight occasions.
In 2017, Xinhua News Agency reported that the Chinese government would seek to participate in the reconstruction of Syria. Strategic investment in Syria is likely to provide China with access to the Mediterranean ports of Latakia and Tartous, opening new horizons for the New Silk Road.
Alfred Wu, a professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, told DW that Assad’s visit to China is in line with Xi Jinping’s repeated challenges to the United States.
“This visit is not related to the New Silk Road Initiative, because China is no longer financially able to expand the project,” Wu said. “It’s more about Xi showing that he is the leader of the Global South.” Wu said this is the reason why Xi traveled to South Africa for the BRICS summit but not to India for the G20 summit.
Xi has repeatedly welcomed high-level representatives from countries shunned by the United States and its allies. Assad’s visit is unlikely to help improve his standing with the United States and the European Union. “He can only go to China for now,” Wu said. “No Western country will receive him.”
This article was originally written in German.
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