Just days after Russia announced it’s adding a second permanent military base in Syria, Guan Youfei, rear admiral of the People’s Liberation Army Navy and director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of China’s Central Military Commission, met with Syrian Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij in Damascus to discuss strengthening its ties with Syria and its military.
China has played no major role in Middle Eastern diplomacy and instead leaves that up to the United Nations Security Council despite its actions of becoming more involved with the embattled region by sending envoys to push for a diplomatic resolution to the violence in Syria. This rare visit by a high ranking Chinese official to the volatile Middle East was marked by Youfei’s remarks that China has always supported Syria and now wants a closer military alliance with the war-torn country with Youfei saying,
“China and Syria’s militaries have a traditionally friendly relationship, and China’s military is willing to keep strengthening exchanges and cooperation with Syria’s military.”
Both Youfei and al-Freij discussed training and agreed on the Chinese military providing humanitarian aid (as to what kind of humanitarian aid will be provided remains to be seen as Youfei didn’t elaborate on it) to Syria despite China not having any interest to get involved militarily in Syria before now (Youfei also met with a Russian general in Damascus, but no details were given).
China is concerned that Uighurs (or Uyghurs), a largely Muslim population in the far western region of China in the Xinjiang province, are fighting alongside militant groups in Syria and Iraq and have traveled illegally through Southeast Asia and Turkey to do so. Speculation aside, Russia and China are making it known to the world that they are strengthening their military presence in Syria, which the ramifications of such could be disastrous in the future for the United States and her allies in the region.