The Chinese Rebuilding of Syria

(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University) Dr. Gideon Elazar - China appears determined to take on a central role in Syria's reconstruction. This summer, China hosted the "First Trade Fair on Syrian Reconstruction Projects," during which officials pledged $2 billion towards the rebuilding. In an interview with a Chinese journalist in March, Syrian President Assad said he strongly supports the study of Chinese and noted that Chinese-Syrian relations are developing rapidly. During the Syrian civil war, Beijing blocked decisions at the UN intended to impose sanctions on Syria and dispatched a small number of troops to Syria to provide medical and engineering training for the Syrian army. One reason often cited to explain China's support for the Syrian regime is the presence in Syria of 5-10,000 Uighur Muslim jihadists from Xinjiang who are fighting alongside the Syrian opposition. A significant percentage of the Uighurs in Syria arrived with their families, settling in abandoned Shiite and Christian villages on the Turkish-Syrian frontier. Beijing would prefer to eliminate the Uighur Islamists on Syrian ground rather than deal with them back in China. The writer is a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and a postdoctoral fellow at Ben-Gurion University specializing in Asian Studies.

2017-12-15 00:00:00

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