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Humanitarian aid for Syria to continue, Chinese envoy says

China will continue providing Syria with humanitarian aid worth US$70 million, ambassador to Syria Qi Qianjian has said.

Qi made the remarks during a meeting on Monday with the head of the National Commission for the Syrian Science Olympiad, Imad al-Azab.

The comments signal continuing Chinese support for Damascus in the war-torn area, against a backdrop of Russia and the United States brokering a fragile truce, and beliefs that incoming US president Donald Trump might reduce US military involvement in the Middle East.

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Guan Youfei – head of the Office for International Military Cooperation, part of China’s Central Military Commission – had announced plans to boost military cooperation with Syria in August.

China wanted to enhance cooperation with Syria in training and education through official channels or NGOs, Qi was quoted as saying on Monday by Xinhua.

During the meeting, Qi underlined the importance of enhancing Sino-Syrian relations in all sectors.

He also provided computers for the Syrian science commission, to support its work.

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The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance bilateral scientific cooperation among young people.

China’s leverage in the Middle East has been expanding. In January, President Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia and Iran after the two nations broke off diplomatic ties, in a bid to stay friendly with both sides of the Sunni-Shiite divide.

Xi brought with him US$55 billion in loans and investments for the region, including a US$20 billion fund for the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.