Subjects – Syria Report



In 2023, the Syrian government partially reemerged from international diplomatic isolation as the regional normalisation process gained traction. After being reinstated in the Arab League in May, Bashar Al-Assad, his ministers, and Chambers of Commerce in regime areas have had a busier agenda compared to previous years, mostly re-engaging with Arab leaders and some Western countries.
Five months after Syria’s reinstatement in the Arab League, normalisation with Bashar Al-Assad seems to have yielded few Damascus concessions: captagon trade is surging, there is no sign of steps towards stabilisation, political reforms, or refugee return.
President Bashar Al-Assad’s handshake with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on September 22 marks a significant step in Syria’s reintegration into the global diplomatic sphere. Despite much fanfare, however, it is unlikely that promises by China's foreign minister Wang Yi’s “to take ties to a new level” will materialise into investments in Syria’s cash-strapped economy, given the recent decrease in China’s footprint in the country and Syria’s distressed business environment.
Syria has recently signed a memorandum of understanding on joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a long-term, transcontinental infrastructure and investment project that aims to economically integrate countries falling along the ancient Silk Road trade route. Although the agreement is not legally binding, Syria would benefit immensely from its prospective inclusion, as the projects brought about by the initiative would contribute to the country’s post-war reconstruction.


Prior to the uprising, China was a major trade partner of Syria and had investments in the country, especially in its petroleum sector. Although trade increased following the 2011 conflict, Chinese companies largely withdrew from the market.
The following text is a copy of the report made by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) following the phone call conversation between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Chinese President Xi Jinping that took place on October 5, 2021.