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China declares 'strategic partnership' with Syria as Xi, Assad meet in Beijing

Chinese President Xi Jinping (4th R) meets with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (4th L) in Hangzhou City, China, on September 22, 2023. (Photo by SANA)

China’s President Xi Jinping and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad have met in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, unveiling a strategic cooperation agreement between the two nations.

Xi and Assad “on Friday jointly announced the establishment of the China-Syria strategic partnership," Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.

The Chinese president told Assad that Damascus-Beijing ties "have withstood the test of international changes", noting that the China-Syria strategic partnership “will become an important milestone in the history of bilateral relations."

"Faced with an international situation full of instability and uncertainty, China is willing to continue to work together with Syria, firmly support each other, promote friendly cooperation, and jointly defend international fairness and justice," Xi added, according to a readout from state broadcaster CCTV.

The Chinese leadership further said, "China supports Syria in opposing foreign interference, opposing unilateral bullying, safeguarding national independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity."

For his part, Assad "thanked the Chinese government for everything you have done to stand alongside the Syrian people” during their plight.

He stated, “The visit is important in terms on timing and circumstances, as a multi-polar world is being formed today that will restore balance and stability to the world.”

“I hope that our meeting today will lay the foundations for a broad and long-term strategic cooperation in various fields,” he was quoted as saying by Syria’s official news agency SANA.

This is Assad’s first official visit to China since 2004, and comes as the country is recovering from a foreign-backed militancy that erupted over 10 years ago.

The visit will also see Assad attending the Asian Games opening ceremony on Saturday.

In May, Syria also returned to the Arab fold after the Arab League readmitted the country to the bloc after a 12-year suspension.

The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011, when the country launched a campaign to weed out the most violent militants trickling into the country from around the world.

Syria, one of the six founding members of the Arab League in 1945, denounced the move as “illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”

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