Published: 2023-09-22 15:54
Last Updated: 2023-12-02 17:58
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a "strategic partnership" with Syria on Friday during talks with President Bashar al-Assad, who is seeking financial support to help rebuild his country.
The leaders met on the eve of the Asian Games opening ceremony, which Assad will attend as part of his first visit to China since 2004.
China is one of only a handful of countries outside the Middle East that Assad has visited since 2011.
Assad is the latest in a string of leaders ostracised by the West to be feted by Beijing, with Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi visiting this year, as well as top Russian officials.
"Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad on Friday jointly announced the establishment of the China-Syria strategic partnership," according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
The leaders were each flanked by nine aides at a large rectangular wooden table, a CCTV video showed, as two flags from each country were set in front of a Chinese painting in the meeting room.
Relations between the two countries "have withstood the test of international changes", Xi said.
"China supports Syria in opposing foreign interference, opposing unilateral bullying, safeguarding national independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity," the Chinese leader added.
Assad, in turn, said he "thanked the Chinese government for everything you have done to stand alongside the Syrian people in their cause and their trials", according to a readout from the Syrian state news agency SANA.
"This visit is extremely important due to its timing and circumstances because a multipolar world is being formed today which will restore balance and stability to the world," he said.
"I hope that our meeting today will lay the foundations for broad-based and long-term strategic cooperation in all areas," he added.