Syrian President Assad visits China: A diplomatic endeavor amid global isolation

News Bulletin Reports
2023-09-21 | 11:25
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Syrian President Assad visits China: A diplomatic endeavor amid global isolation
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Syrian President Assad visits China: A diplomatic endeavor amid global isolation

For the first time in 19 years, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has set foot on Chinese soil, marking his return to the international stage. 

Accompanied by his wife, he arrived aboard a specially chartered presidential plane sent by Chinese President Xi Jinping, a long-standing ally who has maintained a steadfast relationship with the Syrian regime throughout the years of the Syrian civil war, repeatedly exercising China's veto power in the UN Security Council to shield Assad's government.

The official announcement of the visit referred to it as a "Sino-Syrian summit," where Assad participated in the opening ceremony of the Asian Games and held discussions with high-ranking Chinese officials from political and economic spheres.

Yet, the significance of this visit lies beyond the surface, bringing together two allies who share a common experience of isolation and pressure from Western countries, most notably the United States.

What are the main indications?

Assad seeks to secure international legitimacy for his regime through his visit to Beijing, especially following his return to the Arab fold. As a significant global economic power that has also worked to improve relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, China holds a vital role in Assad's diplomatic outreach.

The visit also takes place as Assad aims to garner support for the reconstruction of Syria, which is constrained by the Caesar Act, a US law imposing sanctions on the country. China, along with Russia and Iran, has been classified as a "friendly government" by Syria, prioritizing these countries in its reconstruction projects.

However, it raises questions about China's intentions and whether it will challenge the United States by investing in Syria under the shadow of the Caesar Act. 

Beijing has hesitated to invest in Syria, which is subject to sanctions, as Chinese companies have been affected by the economic slowdown in their domestic market. The Financial Times suggests that Assad's visit provides an opportunity for China to bolster its diplomatic standing in the Middle East, a region crucial for its oil and gas imports.

Beijing sees Assad's visit as an opportunity to elevate its relations with Syria to a "new level" and assert itself as a major diplomatic player in a region where the United States has traditionally held sway.

In the broader context, Assad becomes the latest head of state, widely isolated on the global stage, to be hosted by China this year, following the visits of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, and Russian officials.

News Bulletin Reports

Middle East News

Syrian

President

Assad

Visit

China

Diplomatic

Endeavor

Global

Isolation

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