Chinese President Xi Jinping met with President Bashar al-Assad, who was visiting China for the first time since the Syrian civil war, and issued a joint statement on the strategic partnership.
China seems to want to increase its presence in the Middle East, where U.S. involvement is weakening.

Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is visiting China on the occasion of the Asian Games, in the eastern city of Hangzhou on May 22.

This is President Assad's first visit to China in 2004 years since 19 and his first since the Syrian civil war.

According to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the meeting, President Xi emphasized the friendly relationship between the two countries that has lasted for 67 years, and said, "China supports the improvement of relations between Syria and other Arab countries, and we would like to promote cooperation through the Belt and Road with Syria."

Meanwhile, Syria's state news agency quoted President Bashar al-Assad as saying: "We are hopeful for China's constructive role in the international arena and reject any attempt to weaken China's role by interfering in its internal affairs or creating tensions in the South China Sea and elsewhere."

The two Prime Ministers then issued a joint statement on the strategic partnership.

Western countries have imposed sanctions on the Assad regime during the Syrian civil war, but the Chinese media reported on the hospitality of the Chinese side, such as how President Assad arrived on a Chinese airline flight and was welcomed.

In March, China brokered the normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which had severed diplomatic relations, and seems to be aiming to increase its presence amid the relative weakening of U.S. involvement in the Middle East.