China will be helping the Syrian government in its battle against insurgents under a deal reached between Beijing and Damascus on Sunday. This is another step forward in Beijing’s engagement in the Middle East.
The Chinese military delegation to Syria met their Syrian counterparts, Xinhua reported, and reached an agreement on how to improve personnel training, with the Chinese military also offering humanitarian aid.
While there, Rear Admiral Guan Youfei also met Lieutenant General Sergei Chvarkov of Russia’s reconciliation centre in Syria. China as sided with Russia on United Nations Security Council resolutions on Syria, but up until now, Beijing has not been directly involved in the Syrian civil war as Russia has.
Russia has been helping the Syrian army by carrying out air strikes against rebel strongholds in action strongly criticised by the west.
The battle for Syria’s second-biggest city, Aleppo, has entered a decisive phase and the Syrian government appears to have considerable advantages over the rebels. The overall global situation is also in Syria’s favour, with Turkey moving closer to Russia.
Wang Jian, a Middle East specialist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China’s help to Syria would give China a bigger say in both a solution to the Syrian issue and in the Middle East. “And that would be good for better protection of China’s interests in this region,” Wang said. “To become a so-called responsible world power, more proactive gestures are needed.”