Alwaght- China’s non-interference policy in the age of the rise of ISIS is taking an unexpected turn. First Iran, Hezbollah, and more recently Russia and now it seems China is getting involved in the conflict in Syria.
While foreign interference is not a novel concept when it comes to Syria where thousands of foreign-backed terrorists have taken part in the destruction of the country, and a US-led coalition allegedly is bombing ISIS positions, it is nonetheless a new step taken by the Chinese authorities which have so far refrained from military involvement in Syria.
The Lebanon-based Almasdarnews.com recently quoted a senior officer in the Syrian Arab Army as saying that the Chinese military personnel are expected to arrive at Syria’s Tartous’ ports in the next six weeks.
Meanwhile, an Israeli military news website, Debkafile, has cited military sources as saying that a Chinese aircraft carrier, the Liaoning-CV-16, has already been spotted at the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean coast. It was said to be accompanied by a guided missile cruiser, RT reported.
The sudden change in China’s stance toward Syrian crisis can be attributed to many reasons. If the media reports translate into reality, China’s motives can be pinpointed as follows:
1- China is deeply concerned over some extremist groups’ activities in its Muslim-populated regions. Extremists affected by the ideology of terrorism, particularly, in the Northwestern province of Xinjiang have alarmed Chinese authorities. The expansion of ISIS in the West Asia may be seen as a catalyst for extremist attempts to establish their so-called caliphate on Chinese territory. To add to that, many Chinese nationals have entered Syria in the past five years to fight alongside extremist groups against the government of President Bashar Assad.
2- What is undeniable is the race between China and the US, economically, militarily, politically and now even on Syrian soil. The US presence in Syria taunts the Chinese who had said that they were ready to contribute to anti-terrorist operations but not in the US-led coalition. The competition between the two countries is always present and that’s why China prefers to shift this rivalry away from its borders. To keep the country safe and avoid confrontation with the Americans, China could use Syria as a proxy battlefield.
3- Last but not least, Chinese advisors working with the Russians and Iranians against the US which is leading the coalition bombarding militant positions in Syria would tilt the power balance in its favor. On the ground, strategic support to the Syrian army would pave the way for more victories and regaining ground lost to ISIS. The Chinese involvement would signify that they played a major role in the game changer that will finally restore Syria to its former glory.