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Forum in Beijing Takes Up Reconstruction for Syria

July 11, 2017 (EIRNS)—The Global Times reports today that the China-Arab Exchange Association sponsored a forum in Beijing Sunday on the reconstruction and development of Syria. The Syrian Ambassador to China, Imad Moustapha, said that "Syria has gradually begun its rebuilding program mainly in energy, water supply and manufacturing." He said that China’s structural reform and reduction of overcapacity can connect with Syria’s rebuilding, and that the Belt and Road Initiative also offers a good chance to work with Syria in various fields, Global Times reports.

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. He said that the unstable situation puts obvious restraints on the reconstruction, but that the process will begin in any case.

The recent U.S.-Russian cease-fire deal in southwest Syria concluded by Trump and Putin last week, Hua said, means that reconstruction can begin. "Rebuilding is very likely to begin in western Syria, areas around Damascus and the strongholds of President Bashar al-Assad," he said.

Sputnik also reports on the event today, writing that a delegation of 30-50 representatives of Chinese enterprises is expected to visit Syria from Aug. 15-22 "to explore investment opportunities," according to Qin Yong, the deputy chairman of China-Arab Exchange Association. They plan to visit Damascus, Homs and Aleppo and meet with local officials to discuss investment opportunities on a wide range of reconstruction projects. Qin said discussions are "primarily focused on restoration of the power supply systems in Syria."

Qin and a representative from the state-owned Jiangxi Construction Group Corp. visited Syria in April. Many more Chinese companies backed out last minute after the U.S. attacked the Syria airfield on April 7, Qin said. A second group of a 12-member Chinese delegation visited Syria on June 12-16, including representatives from Alibaba. They were told during that visit that Russia, China and Iran would have priority in reconstruction of Syria after the end of the war.

Qin said that a number of Chinese enterprises, including the state-owned China Energy Engineering Corporation and China Construction Fifth Engineering Division Corp., have signed up for the visit to Syria next month.

There is a plan under discussion to create a Chinese-Syrian industrial park for 150 companies, costing $2 billion and creating 40,000 jobs.