China is courting Assad to gain a foothold in the Middle East | Scientist

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China is courting Assad to gain a foothold in the Middle East | Scientist

China has thrown its weight behind the newly “re-elected” Syrian president, Assad, as rescuing the conflict-ridden country has become a pivotal project of an anti-Western axis stretching from Moscow and Tehran to Beijing.

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, has become the first foreign dignitary to visit Assad, aged 55, since he claimed he won 95 percent of the vote in the May elections, giving him a fourth term in office. The visit coincided with the swearing-in ceremony in front of 600 invited guests.

Wang offered to include Syria in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a plan to invest in infrastructure across Asia and the Middle East in exchange for access to local markets and diplomatic support.

Syria has made little progress in rebuilding its shattered cities

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