In a significant diplomatic development, China and Syria have formally announced the establishment of a strategic partnership. This announcement came during a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Syrian President Bashar Assad in Hangzhou, China, as the city prepared to host the Asian Games. The partnership reflects China’s growing engagement with countries in the Middle East and its quest to assert itself on the global stage.
Solidarity Amid Global Uncertainty
Amid the backdrop of an unstable international environment, Xi Jinping emphasized China’s commitment to supporting Syria and vice versa. The leaders pledged to strengthen their cooperation, not only to bolster their own interests but also to uphold international fairness and justice. This move aligns with China’s strategy to position itself as a counterbalance to the U.S.-led international order.
Parallel to Russian Engagement
Notably, Bashar Assad’s visit to China bears some resemblance to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics the previous year. Both leaders face isolation in the Western world but are welcomed by China as it seeks to expand its global influence. This illustrates China’s strategy of embracing international actors who are marginalized by the West.
Asian Games Diplomacy
President Assad’s visit coincided with the opening ceremony of the Asian Games, where he joined other dignitaries, including the King of Cambodia, the Crown Prince of Kuwait, and the Prime Ministers of Nepal, East Timor, and South Korea. This underscores China’s role in fostering diplomatic ties and cultural exchanges through international sporting events.
Economic Assistance for Syria
As Syria grapples with the enduring consequences of a protracted and brutal war, President Assad is actively seeking ways to break free from international isolation. During his visit, discussions were expected to revolve around economic assistance from China, which could play a pivotal role in Syria’s reconstruction efforts. China’s willingness to provide economic support signifies its growing influence in the Middle East.
China’s Ongoing Support
Chinese state media reported President Xi expressing China’s enduring support for Syria, emphasizing the importance of opposing external interference and unilateral bullying. China has previously used its veto power in the U.N. Security Council to block resolutions against the Syrian government, demonstrating its commitment to supporting President Assad’s regime.
Syrian Hopes for Long-Term Cooperation
President Assad expressed optimism that the meeting would lay the foundation for a comprehensive and enduring strategic partnership between China and Syria across various domains. This highlights Syria’s eagerness to deepen its collaboration with China, leveraging Chinese support for its political and economic aspirations.