China’s Interests in Syria and the Middle East
By Dr. Christina Lin
Syria Comment – November 13, 2016
Interview with Dr. Christina Lin about China’s view of Syria, ISIS, Ughurs and Turkey
- What is China’s motivation for a greater involvement in Syria, considering that many Uighur fighters seem to be going to Syria, with the goal of making a new permanent home for themselves, and thus not returning to China?
China does not want Syria to turn into a haven/base for Uyghurs to attack Chinese citizens and interests overseas as well as in the Chinese homeland. The August 30 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Krgyzstan, planned by Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria and financed by Al Nusra, is a sign of what is to come if they continue to grow. This is similar to what provoked Washington to invade Afghanistan in 2001 to deny Al Qaeda a base to plan further attacks against the US.
- China has traditionally not been very interested in Syria, unlike Russia for example – what are they hoping to gain from helping Assad?
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is the most effective fighting force countering terrorists in Syria. I’ve documented in my previous Asia Times article about Asian jihadists especially from Uzbekistan and China based in Aleppo and Idlib. So SAA is fighting Asian militants in Syria (which China dub as the new Afghanistan) on behalf of the Chinese and Central Asian states. It is natural that China would help the Syrian government’s counter-terrorism efforts against anti-Chinese militants and other terrorist groups in Syria.
It is important to understand that China is taking a comprehensive approach towards the two Afghanistans—one in Central Asia and one in the Middle East—they are not separate and are interlinked with the same terrorist actors. China is already training Afghan security forces and will step up its aid to the Syrian security forces. The West makes a mistake in looking at them separately, but they are the same issue for China.