China on Friday called for the immediate lifting of all "illegal and unilateral" sanctions on Syria, shortly after announcing a "strategic partnership" between the two countries following a summit between President Xi Jinping and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.
A joint Sino-Syrian statement carried by China's official Xinhua news agency said Beijing opposes interference by outside powers in Syria's internal affairs and undermining its security and stability, as well as an "illegal military presence" in Syria.
The statement added that the two sides strongly oppose all forms of hegemony and power politics, including the imposition of illegal unilateral sanctions and restrictive measures against other countries.
Earlier in the day, the Chinese president revealed after meeting with the Syrian president in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou a new "strategic partnership" between the two countries, describing it as "an important milestone in the history of bilateral relations."
Xi said China supports the political settlement of the crisis in Syria, improving Damascus' relations with other Arab countries, as well as supporting it in reconstruction and strengthening capacity building in what he called counter-terrorism.
On Thursday, Assad began his first official visit to China in nearly two decades and will attend the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou on Saturday.
China has supported the Syrian regime in international forums and the UN Security Council, abstaining several times from voting on resolutions condemning it during the war years, and using its veto power on Russia's side to stop these resolutions.
Observers believe that Syria is of strategic importance to Beijing due to its geographical location next to Iraq, from which about 10% of Chinese oil comes, and next to Turkey, which marks the end of economic corridors stretching through Asia to Europe.