China has long been concerned, and maybe frightened, by the rise of Islamic extremism and jihadism in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, by Uyghur militants. The communist state has repressed and persecuted this faction. To escape this predicament, many have fled to Syria to enter the civil war against the Assad regime by Islamists in the region.
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China now says it is ready to help defeat these Asian militants with its own military assistance. Estimates put the number of Chinese militants fighting alongside Sunnis at approximately 5,000, of the total 40,000 opposition fighters left in the country.
The “[Chinese] military is willing to participate in some way alongside the Syrian army that is fighting the terrorists in Idlib and in any other part of Syria,” the Chinese ambassador to Syria said in an interview with the pro-government daily newspaper Al-Watan, subsequently translated by The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), reported Zero Hedge.
Chinese Ambassador To Syria says: "We Are Willing To Participate In Some Way In The Battle For Idlib Alongside The Assad Army Because of The Uyghur Jihadists Fighting with the Opposition https://t.co/MhSO56oAm1
— Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) August 3, 2018
There is positive military cooperation between China and Syria in the domain of counterterrorism. We know that the war on terror and Syria’s campaign against the terrorists serve not only the interests of the Syrian people but also the interests of the Chinese people and of [all] the peoples of the world.
He explained further of Chinese interests in the war: “There has been close cooperation between our armies in fighting the terrorists [who came to Syria] from all over the world, including terrorists who came from China. This cooperation between the armies and [other] relevant elements will continue in the future…”
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When asked about the upcoming Idlib offensive, Qianjin replied that China “is following the situation in Syria, in particular after the victory in southern [Syria], and its military is willing to participate in some way alongside the Syrian army that is fighting the terrorists in Idlib and in any other part of Syria,” reported Zero Hedge.
A Chinese military attaché to Syria, Wong Roy Chang, backed the ambassador’s statement, albeit in a more reserved tone. Chang said, “The military cooperation between the Syrian and Chinese armies is ongoing. We have good relations and we maintain this cooperation in order to serve the security, integrity and stability of our countries. We – China and its military – wish to develop our relations with the Syrian army.”
One of the main things the Chinese military lacks at present is actual combat experience, unlike American and Russian forces. This effort may be a way to inject China into the fighting, gain a foothold in the Middle East to complement its African holdings, and ‘bloody’ its troops a little bit.