The relationship between China and Syria goes a long way back. Until the moment when the Syrian war broke out in 2011, Beijing was trying to tap into Syrian markets by becoming its largest importer. Chinese companies took part in a great many energy projects in the Syrian Arab Republic. China’s economic plans in Syria have always been more ambitious than those of Russia, and some of them have actually come to fruition. In particular, the Chinese National Oil and Gas Company invested a considerable amount of money in Syria, and was planning to invest more before the war started.
When the initial crisis was transformed in what initially looked like a civil war, Beijing did not remain indifferent, it vetoed time and time again all of the anti-Syrian initiatives proposed before the UN Security Council, effectively obstructing Washington’s armed aggression against Damascus together with Russia.
The Western proxy war against Syria has resulted in China suffering considerable financial losses. However, amid a situation Beijing didn’t want to aggravate relations with Washington, it chose not to send even a limited number of troops to Syria. However, since the Trump administration decided to start a trade war against China, Beijing is reconsidering its approach towards the Arab World in general, and toward Syria in particular.
As China transforms into an incredibly powerful geopolitical player, one that can survive a rivalry with the United States, it draws the rest of the world into cooperation with it, which will soon have global consequences. In this context, Syria can become a test of China’s resolve to more actively intervene in global events in order to promote and defends its own national interests.
Just recently, China’s ambassador to Syria, Qi Qianjin, reportedly stated that the Chinese military is willing to participate in some way alongside the Syrian army in the fight against terrorists in Idlib and in any other parts of Syria.
However, it can not be ruled out that it may be China’s intention to send its military to Syria to obtain some modern military experience, on top of the goal of providing humanitarian relief to the Syrian population and destroying terrorist forces. Just like Russia was able to test its top-notch military equipment by entering the Syrian conflict,