Syrian president makes official visit to China for first time in nearly 20 years

Beijing, Sep 21 (EFE).- Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad arrived on Thursday in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou marking his first visit to the country in almost two decades..

Assad is expected to meet Chinese president Xi Jinping, and also attend the opening of the 19th Asian Games on Saturday in Hangzhou, according to state-owned Xinhua news agency.

“Assad’s visit to China will be perceived as a sign that China-Syria relations could be restored once again to the level prior to the ‘Arab Spring,’ when the two sides were engaged in a broad range of cooperation and shared a steady friendship between peoples of the two countries,” said Yin Gang of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, according to official Global Times newspaper.

During his meeting with Chinese officials, Assad is expected to discuss bilateral cooperation, including the resumption of previous projects such as the construction of reservoirs, oil fields and other infrastructure projects, as well as discussing new potential areas of cooperation,” said Yin.

Chinese researchers believe that Assad’s visit illustrates a “recognition” of Chinese diplomacy by the Middle East, where Beijing has increased its influence in recent years, for example, by acting as a mediator between Iran and Saudi Arabia in March.

“China’s concept of seeking regional and national peaceful development has played a positive role in prompting regional reconciliation” in the area, Li Weijian, a research fellow at the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS), said to Global Times.

Li added that “Middle Eastern countries are now seeking a more harmonious geopolitical environment and bilateral relations.”

The Asian Games, the largest in history and in which Syrian athletes will participate, were planned to be held a year ago, but the Chinese government decided to postpone them amid the Omicron wave.

It is the first time Al Assad has traveled to China since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, although he had visited the country before.

The United States leads an international coalition fighting against the extremist group Islamic State (IS), and its military is deployed in several bases in Syria against Assad’s government. EFE


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