Chinese firms open to investing in Syria despite huge risks

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/10 22:18:40

China's State-owned and private enterprises are likely to join the rebuilding program of Syria despite the risks, Chinese experts said after a Syrian diplomat expressed his country's wish to cooperate with China.

Syria has gradually begun its rebuilding program mainly in energy, water supply and manufacturing, Syrian Ambassador to China Imad Moustapha said during a Sunday conference in Beijing, the People's Daily reported. The meeting was organized by the China-Arab Exchange Association.

Moustapha said China's supply-side structural reform and reduction of overcapacity can connect with Syria's rebuilding, adding that the Belt and Road initiative also offers a good chance to work with Syria in various fields.

Hua Liming, a former Chinese Ambassador to Iran, told the Global Times that China would invest in Syria's rebuilding, very likely attracting both State-backed and private companies.

Infrastructure such as roads, houses and the water supply system is the primary investment target. Rehabilitating the oil industry would be the second goal, Hua said.

"However, Syria's unstable security situation suggests risks to investments in the country, and that it would take time for a return on investment to be realized," Hua noted.

Yin Gang, a researcher at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also warned that China's involvement would be limited.

On Syria's economic situation, investment might be limited but China could offer help in humanitarian aid as well, Yin told the Global Times.

The recent US-Russian cease-fire deal in southwest Syria, agreed upon by Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump during the Group of 20 (G20) summit, is "a start to a permanent cease-fire and an end to the six-year-old war," Hua said.

The situation in southwest Syria remains relatively calm and that the cease-fire seems to be holding since the truce began on Sunday, Reuters reported.

"Rebuilding is very likely to begin in western Syria, areas around Damascus and the strongholds of President Bashar al-Assad," said Hua.

Syria's government and opposition will meet on Monday for another round of peace talks to discuss a new constitution, governance, elections and combating terrorism, the AFP reported.


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