Syrian first lady thanks China for standing by her country, preventing plans ‘still being hatched’

Syria’s first lady, Asma al-Assad, has thanked China for standing by her country during international forums to prevent “plans which were and are still being hatched against independent countries”.

Both countries were facing a threat to erase their national cultures “through multiple means … in the name of development and modernisation”, she said on Tuesday, according to a speech seen by the Post. She added the goal was to “destroy societies and erase identity.”

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Assad made the remarks in Arabic during a meeting at the school of Arabic studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University. The gathering was attended by China’s ambassador to Syria, Shi Hongwei, as well as diplomats from Syria and the United Arab Emirates, according to a statement from the university.

“Speaking Arabic with you reflects the strong historical and cultural ties between China and Syria, which have existed since thousands of years ago, when caravans travelled between China and the Sharm region via the Silk Road,” Assad said.


China’s Belt and Road, 10 years on

China’s Belt and Road, 10 years on

Assad praised China’s development for “the amazing scientific and technological progress achieved by the government and the people on the basis of the preservation of its unique cultures and languages”.

The Belt and Road Initiative, a China-centred global trade and infrastructure initiative, “preserves and revitalises local cultural heritage” and “calls for communication of knowledge and culture”, she added.


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In war-torn Syria, production starts on Jackie Chan film about heroic Chinese diplomats

The first lady was travelling with her husband, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, on his first visit to China since the Syrian civil war started in 2011. The six-day trip, which concluded on Wednesday, was the longest Assad had been out of the country since the war broke out.
Assad, who has ruled Syria for 23 years and is widely considered by the West to have obstructed democratic forces and caused a humanitarian crisis in the country, remains under sanctions.

Before their visit to Beijing, the Assads were among the guests at the Asian Games ceremony in Hangzhou. In an interview with state broadcaster CCTV, Assad said he was moved by the Chinese cheers for the Syrian delegation during the opening ceremony of the games, adding that the scene was “proof that China is emotionally close to the Syrian people”.

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Assad added that his younger son had been studying Chinese for more than seven years.

Syria’s civil war has led to an estimated 300,000 casualties, according to a report from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2022.

China has backed Damascus in the conflict, but denied direct military involvement.

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