Media outlets and political analysts view a recent visit by a top Chinese military officer to Syria as a show of support for the Damascus government, which is engaged in heavy anti-terror battles with the help of its allies, including Russia and Iran.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary that recent visit by Guan Youfei, the Chinese military official charged with overseeing international cooperation, signaled Beijing’s willingness to boost military cooperation with the Damascus government.
This is while the newspaper Global Times cited the Chinese Defense Ministry as saying that both sides agreed to expand personnel training and humanitarian aid to Syrians via the Chinese military.
The Chinese military “is willing to strengthen cooperation with its Syrian counterparts,” it quoted the ministry as saying.
The visit comes as Beijing has also warned of the potential threat posed by Chinese militants returning to the country after fighting alongside Takfiri terrorist groups such as Daesh in Syria and Iraq. The Chinese military is involved in fighting a foreign-backed militancy in some troubled regions across China.
Meanwhile, Wang Lian of the School of International Studies at Peking University said the visit took place in the wake of recent Turkish efforts to warm relations with Russia, which is a key supporter of the Syrian government.
“More likely, the Chinese military wanted to use Guan’s trip to better understand the current state of the turmoil in Syria,” Wang said. “In developing a closer relationship with Syria, one has to take into account the changes at hand in Syria and the region, including the fast-recovering relations between Turkey and Russia.”
The official, who recently visited Syria for talks with Syrian Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij, has said Beijing was seeking closer military ties with Damascus.
“The Chinese and Syrian militaries traditionally have a friendly relationship, and the Chinese military is willing to keep strengthening exchanges and cooperation with the Syrian military,” he stated.
The Chinese official and al-Freij also discussed the enhancement of training for Syrian soldiers by the Chinese military