The world has witnessed many bloody wars in the 21st century, and Syria unfortunately experienced one of them. It all started in 2010, with the rise of Arab Spring movement, where a number of states in Middle East and North Africa witnessed an immense anti-government protest. Dating from Assad’s first suppression of mass demonstrations in April 2011, the war in Syria is now entering its ninth year. The conflict has killed more than 130,000 and displaced millions of Syrians. Foreign interventions increasingly shaped the course of the war.

On 18th December 2018, President Trump announced the removal of almost 2000 US troops from the Syria’s northeast which is currently liberated from Daesh rule. He said that they have achieved their goals in Syria by the removal of ISIS from Syria. Trump’s sudden announcement of withdrawal shocked the whole international community. America always seems to be the major player in the Syrian war, now however, China is set to become the major player in Syria. The increasing commercial ties between Beijing and Syria unfolded since 2017, as the both states were enhancing their economic ties. As President Trump announce the US withdrawal from Syria, many question arose on the status of the other players in the war. China’s policy stance on Syria always remained unclear and they never directly became the part of Syrian conflict. But China has teamed up with Russia and Iran in backing the Assad’s regime. China casted six vetoes in the United Nation Security Council to protect Assad’s Government by blocking western powers to impose economic sections in response to the chemical attacks.

China looks at America’s withdrawal as an opportunity to increase its economic influence and boost its global initiative of Belt and Road investment (BRI). “The western powers showed a little interest in supporting Assad’s regime to reconstruct Syria. China is facing a little competition in Syria to realize its plans” says Mollie Slatskog, analysts at security intelligence firm, The Soufan Group. Damascus’s growing focus towards Chinese investment increased closer ties between China and Syria. In 2018 China granted $23 billion aid to the Arab region, most of which was going to be invested in Syria. Syria never played an essential role for China until the advent of BRI. Syria as important state in Levantine region to provide an alternate route to the Mediterranean Sea as contrasting to Suez Canal, in achieving the BRI’s economic corridor. Syrian Port of Latakia played a key role in economic corridor by reducing reliance on the Suez Canal and decreasing the cost of trade to European countries.

China is set to become a key player in the rebuilding and reconstructing of Syria. China hosted the “First trade Fair on Syrian reconstruction” in July 2017, on which they promised to give $2 billion on industrial construction. Almost 150 Syrian companies were provided tangible aid from China. China is more indulged in local Syrian companies of steel and energy. Also the Chinese petroleum industry cooperation is the largest shareholder of biggest Syrian oil companies. China’s flagship participation includes Huawei commitment to rebuilt Syrian telecommunication system by 2020. On the 60th annual Damascus International Trade Fair in September 2018, more than 200 Chinese companies were there involved in different fields of life. They invest billions of dollars for stability and once it is achieved Chinese business will be ready to build off extensive groundwork.

Since, China’s foreign policy gives massive importance to territorial sovereignty, Beijing is opposed to put any pressure on President Assad to step down. China knows Assad will prove beneficial for them in increasing influence in the Middle East Theater and challenge America’s hegemony in the region. China’s support for Assad will help it to become closer to its backers, Iran and Russia. China tried to increase its trade with both of these states. The ongoing trade war between China and America also gave an edge to China becoming close to other powers.

China aim to fulfill the practical vacuum other players in Syrian war neglected for a long time. Like, building the institutions like Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which help to increase the economic interdependence and make war a mutual destructive solution. The impending exit of US fits nicely that US policy is not the only recipe of success. China emerging as a new global power and its strong ties with the biggest oil producing countries threatened the US hegemony. Also China becoming the biggest economic hub and increasing its economic relations with Middle Eastern countries help them to grow faster. China is stepping up its connection in Syria, not with its military, but with cash. War torn Syria is a golden opportunity for Beijing reconstruction business.