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China Heaps Praise on Russia's Military Role in Syria

Russia has a new ally for the next round of Geneva talks

China, which so far has stayed far clear of the Syrian conflict, last Tuesday named a special diplomatic envoy to speak for Beijing at the next round of peace talks (whenever that may be).

The man appointed is its former ambassador to Iran, one Xie Xiaoyan. According to the Chinese foreign ministry the role of the envoy will be to "contribute Chinese wisdom and proposals" in order to "seek a final proper settlement" in Syria.

Well, Xie did not waste any time in making it known what the "Chinese wisdom" in this case was. At his very first press conference last Friday he explained:

"Russia's anti-terrorist operations in Syria are part of international counter-terrorism efforts. Russia's military operations in Syria in the past six months have effectively curbed the spread of extremists and terrorists there. I think this is encouraging progress." 

Xie did not fail to point out that Russian military operations were carried out at the invitation of Syria's government, leaving it unsaid that US military operations there were not.

Western governments act as if they represent the world's consensus on Syria, with Russia being a kind of rogue operator there, but actually rather than being the most representative they are merely the noisiest – scarcely surprising since they have been heavily invested in toppling the government of Syria since 2011.

China, as well as India, have exactly the opposite view. To Beijing and New Delhi both, Assad is the currently legitimate leader of Syria (more so than the jihadis and western proxies who rose up against him) and Russia a factor of stability checking the spread of terrorism fanned by gulf monarchies and the west.

It is true that China and India have not been particularly vocal about this, but this is because they really don't have major immediate interests in Syria, or important ties to Assad. But if anything the fact they, unlike the west, are relatively disinterested and don't have a dog in the fight makes them far better equipped to judge who is in the right than the crusading west.

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