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Syria-China ties set to strengthen

March 13, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Russia [Press Service of the President of Russia/Wikipedia]

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has told the Chinese broadcaster Phoenix Television that his relationship with Beijing is “on the rise” because China is a “real friend” suggesting that his ties with China are strengthening, the Washington Post reported.

China has traditionally played a limited role in the Middle East, despite the fact that it is reliant on the region for oil, but lately has been attempting to end Syria’s war.

In the television interview Al-Assad said the two countries agreed on China’s use of its veto power last month to block a UN resolution to sanction Syria for using chemical weapons against its citizens. China’s use of the veto created stability and political balance against the West, said Al-Assad.

He added that Chinese investment in the residential sector, infrastructure and industrial projects would be welcome.

Over the last few years some members of the Muslim ethnic minority, Uyghur, have left western China for Syria – where they have joined Daesh – to carry out attacks in the Middle East. They have also warned that they may strike China. Al-Assad has said that co-operation on matters of Syrian and Chinese intelligence is “crucial”.

A larger role in the Middle East

China is seeking to take on a larger role not just in Syria, but in the wider Middle East. Last week Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described China as a friend to Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi King Abdullah is set to visit China this week.

Last year China offered support for Yemen’s government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis. Beijing has offered to mediate between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Tehran with the view to promote regional stability.