The Syrian-Chinese Relations history
The historical, bilateral relations between the two countries are deep-rooted. They started 2000 years back through the Silk Road where silk caravans set off from China heading to Syria to meet the European caravans. This phenomenal, long history established human and commercial relations between China and the Arabs and enhanced the cultural dialog between the two sides.
Despite the historical, remarkable relations, especially in the last few decades, the Syrian President’s visit to China in June, 2004, was a turning point in the history of these relations. Moreover, it reduced distances and created a real partnership between the two countries at all levels; politically, economically, and touristic.
During the visit nine treaties of cooperation were signed in various fields; water, agriculture, economy, arts, loans, health care, tourism, oil and Gas, and granting a Chinese scholarship to train Syrian cadres. This scholarship was added to other agreements that go back to 1963 when three agreements were signed; two for trade and another to cover due payments.
According to data gathered by the Research Center at the Chamber of Commerce in Damascus, the size of commercial exchange between the two countries is witnessing a constant growth; it increased from S.P. 30 billion in 2005 to S.P. 37.8 billion in 2006.
The first Arab-Chinese cooperation was started in Damascus in 1988 when the 31st session of the conference of Chambers of Industry, Commerce, and Agriculture of the Arab countries agreed and signed to establish the Arab-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and decreed its system which enhanced economical and commercial development between the Arab countries and China. China is increasingly gaining a high political, military, and commercial profile, especially economically, since it witnessed an unprecedented growth of 9.5% through the last 25 years.
With the Syrian leadership awareness of the important position of China, H.E the President Bashar Al-Assad visited China in June, 2004. During that visit, numerous technical, economical, and cultural agreements were signed, aiming to expand the commercial exchange and economical cooperation. It also fostered investments and mutual projects between the two countries.
However, it is important to note that the most remarkable development at the economical level between China and Syria is establishing the Free Industrial City in Adra- a suburban area near Damascus- which offers China a great opportunity to reach European and Middle Eastern markets. The investment complex comprises 600 factories of 200 Chinese companies that look like a city to produce various industrial goods and distribute them to 17 other countries.
Factories and commercial galleries are founded on a 500 square meters as a duty free establishments. The project covers the needs of neighboring and European countries including: Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Tunis, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Cyprus. This area comprises as well huge warehouses for Chinese goods desired in European markets to provide fast deliveries; goods can be delivered in no more than 10 days while in other cases, it takes 40 days. Due to the Syrian important geographic and strategic position on the Mediterranean, and in the Middle East, China has got great chances in selling its products and fostering its industries which in itself provides new jobs and enhances China’s vital and strategic role.
What is more, Syria and many other Arab countries agreed with China to avail production and distribution centers which is extremely vital for Chinese economical and commercial strategies.