China is offering $16 million to Syrians who have fled the war-torn country seeking asylum, a sign of the country's increasing engagement with the Middle East. President Xi Jinping stated the aid will go to neighboring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan that are flooded with Syrian refugees.
This humanitarian assistance was announced at a meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing on Thursday, reported the Associated Press. In addition, Xi announced an additional $10 million in aid will be offered to the Palestinian Authority.
The president called Arab countries “good friends and neighbors” as well as restating China’s dedication to promote and maintain stability in the entire region.
A major consequence of China’s economic boom in the past decades is the country’s insatiable need for energy. AP states that Saudi Arabia is China's largest supplier in the region and that China’s “ties with the Middle East have expanded along with its rising diplomatic profile and growing dependence on imported crude oil.”
This announcement came just days after Syrian’s presidential election, which was widely condemned as rigged, in which Bashar Assad won his third seven-year term in office. In the shadows of a three-year civil war that has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced, Assad won nearly 90 percent of the vote, according to his government.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford openly condemned the Obama administration’s “cautious approach” to Syria and resigned in March because he couldn’t tolerate the administration’s policies, according to the Washington Post.
“Had the administration offered arms to moderate rebels two years ago, the opposition might control more ground than it does today, and extremists might exert less influence,” Ford said in a PBS interview.