by Refaat Badawi
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife arrived on Sept. 21 at Hangzhou airport on their first official visit to China in nearly two decades, on board the presidential plane that China had specially sent to Damascus.
The invitation addressed to President al-Assad goes beyond the opening of the Asian Games held in China. The visit carries strategic dimensions and is expected to reap tangible results in various fields of cooperation between Syria and China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping received his Syrian counterpart and the accompanying delegation. The two presidents met in the city of Hangzhou, and jointly announced the establishment of a China-Syria strategic partnership.
Xi noted during the meeting that the establishment of the strategic partnership will be a milestone in the history of bilateral ties. China is willing to work with Syria to enrich their relationship and continuously advance the China-Syria strategic partnership.
Xi added that Syria was one of the first Arab countries that established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and was one of the countries that co-sponsored the resolution to restore the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations.
Xi stressed that over the 67 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the China-Syria relationship has stood the test of changes in the international situation, and their friendship has grown stronger over time.
Xi also noted that China will continue to work with Syria to firmly support each other on issues concerning the two sides' respective core interests and major concerns, safeguard the common interests of both countries and other developing countries, and uphold international fairness and justice.
President al-Assad's visit to China is considered historic in its circumstances, timing, and results, and the visit will inevitably lead to more engagement on China's part in Syria, especially in the field of rebuilding and revitalizing the struggling Syrian economy as a result of the unjust American sanctions imposed by the "Caesar Act."
There is no doubt that China's choice of boosting ties with Syria came after in-depth studies of the important geopolitical location of Syria, as Syria is considered the heart of the Arab world, and it constitutes a source for solutions to the region's crises. Syria has also withstood the American-Western conspiracy despite the horrors and disasters that befell it.
It must be noted here that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Damascus in 2021 on an official visit to enhance cooperation between China and Syria. This was the first visit by a high-ranking Chinese official since the start of the war in Syria.
The joint statement issued after the recent meeting in Hangzhou reflects the solid Syrian position in terms of its commitment to the one-China principle and that the government of the People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all of China. Taiwan is an integral part of China's territory, and Syria supports China's efforts to preserve its sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity.
In the Syria-China strategic partnership statement, China explicitly declared its absolute rejection of foreign powers interfering in Syria's internal affairs and harming its security and stability. China also rejects the illegal military presence in Syria, unlawful military operations there, and the plundering of its natural resources.
The Chinese and Syrian sides also declared their rejection of hegemony and power politics in any form, including imposing unilateral sanctions and unlawful restrictive measures on other countries, while pushing for the establishment of a new type of international relations and the building of a community with a shared future for humankind.
It is no exaggeration if we say that the region after President al-Assad's visit to China will not be the same as before and that the world is on the verge of a new strategic approach based on pluralism in which justice and equality prevail to serve humanity.
By inviting Syrian President al-Assad, we see that China champions a new, economically and politically diverse world and that today, the world sees Syria through Chinese eyes.
Editor's note: Refaat Badawi is a political analyst and adviser to former Lebanese Prime Minister Salim al-Hoss.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Xinhua News Agency.