The U.S. military has participated in the civil war between government forces and Muslim rebels in Syria, as has Russia.
Now it looks like China is stepping in.
In a report in the Al-Watan daily newspaper in Saudi Arabia, Chinese Ambassador to Syria Qi Qianjin said there is that possibility.
China, he said, “is following the situation in Syria, in particular after the victory in southern (Syria), and its military is willing to participate in some way alongside the Syrian army that is fighting the terrorists in Idlib and in any other part of Syria.”
The comments were captured by the Middle East Media Research Institute just as the Syrian regime army was preparing to launch a campaign against rebels in Idlib, in northern Syria.
The ambassador said the Chinese military would be willing to participate “in some way.”
“The report also quoted the Chinese military attaché in Syria as saying that the Chinese military wishes to enhance its relations with the Syrian military, and as expressing regret that Chinese Uyghurs are taking part in the fighting against the Assad regime,” MEMRI noted.
The Uyghurs are a predominantly Muslim, Turkic ethnic minority in China. A separatist movement is seeking independence for Xinjiang province, where the Uyghur minority is concentrated.
“Among the separatists are members of the Turkestan Islamic Party, a jihadi organization seeking to establish an Islamic state in Xinjiang,” MEMRI said. “TIP has perpetrated terror against the authorities in China and has also sent fighters to Syria to participate in the fighting against the Assad regime. Its fighters formerly cooperated closely with Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihad groups, and are active mainly in the Idlib area and in the Turkmen Mountain and northern Latakia region. ”
The ambassador said there is “positive military cooperation between China and Syria in the domain of counter-terrorism.”
“We know that the war on terror and Syria’s campaign against the terrorists serve not only the interests of the Syrian people but also the interests of the Chinese people and of [all] the peoples of the world,” he said. “These has been close cooperation between our armies in fighting the terrorists [who came to Syria] from all over the world, including terrorists who came from China. This cooperation between the armies and [other] relevant elements will continue in the future.”
MEMRI reported a Chinese military attache, Wong Roy Chang, made similar comments.
“First, the Chinese government opposes every kind of terrorism. … Second, we regret that some Chinese nationals, encouraged by extremist organizations, came to Syria and formed a terrorist organization [that fights] the [Syrian] citizens and government,” he said. “We oppose and condemn this, and express our sorrow over the crimes perpetrated [by this organization] against the Syrian people and government.”
The attache said the military cooperation between the Syrian and Chinese armies is ongoing.
“We have good relations and we maintain this cooperation in order to serve the security, integrity and stability of our countries,” he said. “We – China and its military – wish to develop our relations with the Syrian army.”