With many in Damascus increasingly confident that Syria will win the war against the terrorists who have invaded their country, focus is starting to gradually shift to re-building Syria’s damaged infrastructure. China is set to be the key player in this respect and preparations to increase China’s business ties to Syria are already in the works.
On Sunday the China-Arab Exchange Association in cooperation with the Syrian Embassy in Beijing held the Syria Day Expo where Representative from over 1,000 Chinese business specialising in redevelopment, infrastructure and investment met with Syrian officials.
The event itself is something of a prelude to a forthcoming larger event, the Syrian Reconstruction Expo.
Imad Mustafa, the Syrian Ambassador to China confirmed that China will be given priority in the rebuilding of post-conflict Syria.
Far from just being a large repair initiative for Syria’s damaged infrastructure, Chinese developmental and investment cooperation could lead to long term mutual benefits for both Beijing and Damascus.
Due to Syria’s position on the Eastern Mediterranean and its good relationship with both its Iraqi neighbour and Iraq’s eastern neighbour, Iran, Syria is well placed to be an important stop on China’s New Silk Road, the global trade superhighway which forms the One Belt–One Road initiative spearheaded by China.
The idea that in a few years time, Syrian ports could be an important export rout of Chinese goods into other parts of the Mediterranean is a concept that could likely come to fruition.
The clear losers in such a deal would be the United States which thus far has distanced itself from the One Belt–One Road project. Because the US, Turkey and many EU states have been in an adversarial position vis-a-vis the legitimate Syrian government for the duration of the conflict, Syria will likely have little interest in working with such countries in the medium term future, even if crippling, damaging and inhumane sanctions are lifted.
China by contrast has consistently supported the Syrian government as well as Russia and Iran’s military participation in Syria’s anti-terrorist coalition.
While China’s support of the Syrian led war against terrorism has been far less visible than the active support offered from Moscow and Tehran, it is China that in the months and years to come, will emerge as the key economic player with the ability and desire to improve Syria’s economic and commercial fortunes once peace returns.