Zreik, M. & Zhao, C. (2022). Chinese presence in the Eastern Mediterranean: evidence from Syria. BRIQ Belt & Road Initiative Quarterly, 4(1), 72-89.


Sino-Syrian relations extend back to 1956, making it one of China’s earliest and most established diplomatic ties with an Arab country. After the Soviet Union turned down Syria’s request for medium-range missile technology in 1980, Beijing declared its willingness to offer Syria the technology. Beijing regards Syria’s intellectual, ideological, cultural and social plurality as a model for the region. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made his first official trip to China in 2004; economic cooperation between China and Syria was the primary emphasis of this visit. There were contracts for oil and energy tankers and manufacturing facilities in Syria. This article deals with the development of SinoSyrian relations and the main stages in the history of the bilateral relationship. An analytical-descriptive approach is used to explain the strategic relationship between the two countries. The article relies on relevant primary and secondary sources to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the topic. The study concludes that China aspires to expand and enhance its presence in the eastern Mediterranean due to its strategic geographical importance, the large economic market and the richness of natural resources that China needs. The article notes that Syria is a strategic area for China, which was evident during the Syrian crisis and China’s use of its veto in the Security Council in favor of the Syrian regime. The article proposes that Sino-Syrian relations are expected to develop in the foreseeable future due to the strategic political understanding between the two regimes and Syria’s active presence on the Belt and Road Initiative, which raises its geographical position in the eastern Mediterranean.