China will support Syria in its economic development and fight against Covid-19 with the final goal of becoming a key actor in the Middle East, link the Arab Republic of Syria with the Belt and Road Initiative and get access to the Syrian raw minerals.
In a telegram, the Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Bashar al-Assad for his re-election as the president of the Arab Republic of Syria.
The Chinese leader stressed Beijing’s support to the Syrian defence of its governmental sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and confirmed the Chinese commitment to help the Syrian Government in contrasting the pandemic, revitalising its economy and improving the lives of the Syrian people.
China admitted the legitimacy of the past Syrian presidential elections that Bashar al-Assad won with 95,1%.
Why this matters? Because Beijing’s support to Bashar al-Assad highlights the Chinese engagement to become an active player in the Middle East, linking Syria with its Belt and Road Initiative. China has a broad strategy in the Middle East. The recent Tehran-Beijing partnership and Chinese statements on investment opportunities in Syria demonstrate that the Arab Republic of Syria is part of a broad game linked with Pakistan and Iran to connect China with Africa and the Indian Ocean. If Syria has a key military partnership with the Russian Federation, China might become Damascus’ main economic partner considering that the Arab Republic of Syria is at the crossroad of the Middle East where transit and communication lines pass.
The Syrian reconstruction process might cost between 250-400 billion dollars and Damascus’s closest military allies, Tehran and Moscow, lack the financial means to support the country. In this context, China has risen as the main Syrian economic partner since Beijing has several times expressed its commitment to invest in Syrian local infrastructures to pursue the Chinese final goal to access raw materials. In fact, even though the civil war hugely damaged the Syrian industrial and production sectors, the Middle Eastern country has interesting potentiality considering its natural resources (iron ore, crude oil, phosphate rock, manganese ore, asphalt, marble, rock salt, and gypsum).
The Syrian-Chinese cooperation is also fundamental for Beijing’s counter-terrorism strategy against those Uighurs who have fought among the ranks of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.