print
memri
September 11, 2018 No.
7663

Chinese Ambassador To Syria: The Two Countries Have A Golden Opportunity To Strengthen Their Ties

On August 5, 2018, China's Ambassador in Syria, Qi Qianjin, published an article in the pro-regime Syrian daily Al-Watan focusing on relations between China and the Arab world. He wrote that these relations have entered a new era of enhanced strategic cooperation and that China is interested in playing a larger role in bringing peace and stability to the region. As for China's relations with Syria, the ambassador stated that, since the beginning of the Syria crisis, his country has been extending "diplomatic and humanitarian" support to the Syrian people, and that the achievements of the Syrian armed forces have strengthened the regime's stability. China, he added, wants to deepen the cooperation between the two countries on the political, military, economic and social levels, and to take part in the rebuilding of Syria.

It should be noted that this article was published several days after Ambassador Qianjin told Al-Watan that the Chinese military would be willing to participate "in some way" in the regime's campaign in Idlib.[1] China later denied this claim, stating that Qianjin's remarks had been mistranslated.[2]


Ambassador Qi Qianjin (image: Al-Watan, Syria, August 5, 2018)

The following are excerpts from the ambassador's August 5 article:[3]

China Has Launched An Economic Reconstruction Plan In Arab Countries, Continues Promoting Chinese-Arab Energy Cooperation

"Chinese diplomacy vis-à-vis the Arab states has entered a new era. The Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum was held in Beijing recently [on July 10-11, 2018]. The opening session was attended by [Chinese] President Xi Jinping, who delivered a speech titled 'Hand in Hand to Promote the Strategic Chinese-Arab Partnership in the New Era.' This meeting was the first Chinese-Arab diplomatic event since the 19th National Conference of the Chinese Communist Party, and was an important meeting amid the joint construction activity by the two sides as part of the Belt and Road Initiative,[4] and it will have considerable impact in terms of deepening the strategic Chinese-Arab partnership.

"[In his speech] President Xi Jinping noted that China was willing to strengthen its ties with the Arabs... and announced that it had launched a special plan to promote economic reconstruction through industrial revitalization, and that it would grant a loan of $20 billion to strengthen cooperation with countries with rebuilding needs, for the implementation of projects providing employment opportunities and bolstering stability in accordance with the principles of trade. China will provide 600 million yuan in additional aid to the people of Syria, Yemen, Jordan and Lebanon for humanitarian and reconstruction purposes. It will tighten cooperation with the Arab states [in the field of] infrastructures such as sea ports and railways, and will continue to promote cooperation in the domains of oil, gas and renewable energy."

China Aspires To Play A Larger Diplomatic Role In The Middle East

About the conflicts in the region, Qianjin noted that: "[President Jinping said in his speech that] China aspires to play a larger role in promoting peace and stability in the region, and calls to insist on dialogue and consultation, for no side can claim the exclusive [right] to make decisions or [choose] the way. We must consistently uphold the principle of sovereignty and oppose isolationism and polarization. We must call for comprehensive reconciliation and oppose the imposing of concessions on others. China calls to defend justice, honesty and joint development, benefit one another as close allies, and invest joint efforts in building a Chinese-Arab community with a joint destiny, in a way that will contribute to the formation of a global community with a joint human destiny.

"President Xi Jinping reiterated the Chinese policy vis-à-vis the Arab states during his visits to the UAE, Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa. He stressed [China's] commitment to resolving the urgent problems through diplomatic channels, finding a suitable solution to the region's real [problems] that considers the interests of all sides... and promoting peace in the Middle East based on enhancing security, strengthening the foundations of  peace and stability in the region and tightening international cooperation in the eradication of extremism..."

China Welcomes The Achievements Of The Syrian Army And The Improvement In The Status Of The Syrian Government

About China-Syria relations, Ambassador Qianjin wrote: "The relations between China and Syria are an important part of Chinese diplomacy in the new era, for, since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries 62 years ago, the two sides have been aiding and supporting each other in all domains. Since the outbreak of the Syria crisis, China has consistently stood alongside the Syrian people and provided its ally Syria with steadfast diplomatic support and extensive humanitarian aid...

"China is always considered to be Syria's greatest partner in trade. China and Syria have established fruitful cooperation in the domains of culture and education, as well as in the military and security [domains]. We are heartened to see the current improvement in Syria's situation: the Arab Syrian army has made further advances in the area around Damascus and in southern Syria, chances of stability and peace are steadily growing, and the status of the Syrian government is becoming more stable. China appreciates Syria's important role in global strategy and places great emphasis on developing the ties of friendship and cooperation with it. China is committed to enhancing international cooperation as part of its Belt and Road Initiative and regards Syria as a natural partner for jointly building the belt and the road – just as the honorable President Assad set out the strategy of turning to the East to strengthen the ties with the [Far] East countries, including China. This strategy, and the Belt and Road Initiative, afford China and Syria a golden opportunity to strengthen the cooperation between them in a variety of domains.

"We greatly welcome the Syrian strategy of turning to the East, and intend to strengthen our cooperation with Syria on the political, military, economic and social levels. [We intend] to take an active part in rebuilding [Syria], in a way that enables the Syrian side to benefit from the advantages of the Chinese economy... and establish [channels for the] exchange of information on the ideological, cultural and administrative levels so as to promote the restoration of peace, stability and prosperity in Syria as soon as possible."

 

[2] Al-Watan (Syria), August 7, 2018.

[3] Al-Watan (Syria), August 5, 2018.

[4] The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), or the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, is a Chinese program aimed at promoting infrastructure investments, trade and cooperation with over 70 countries from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific.