What Difference Does It Really Make If China Sent Soldiers To Syria Or Not?

The rumor mill was churning once again with the popular claims that China allegedly deployed its military forces to Syria.

The latest now-discredited report stated that two teams of Chinese special forces were being deployed to Syria to fight against Uighur terrorists, with the only difference between this latest speculation and those which came before it being the name of the units involved. Some version or another of this story has circulated in the Alt-Media Community every couple of months since the start of Russia’s decisive 2015 anti-terrorist intervention in Syria, causing premature celebrations from Beijing’s foreign supporters who are utterly enthralled at the prospect of the People’s Republic entering the war. The image of Chinese and Russian troops fighting side-by-side with their Syrian allies against American-backed proxy forces is the ultimate political fantasy for some, but sadly for them, nothing of the sort will probably ever happen, or at least not at all like how they imagine it.

The first thing to realize is that the potential dispatch of small Chinese special forces teams to Syria won’t make any difference in altering the war’s dynamics, let alone this late in the game when the military phase of the conflict is nearing the completion of its transition to the political one. Secondly, China doesn’t need to kill Uighur terrorists in Syria itself when the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), which presumably has or could receive all the relevant intelligence on them, could do it for them. This suggests that any possible deployment would be more for symbolic and political purposes than actual military ones, but in any case, it’s doubtful that China would even take this step. Beijing wants to avoid the resultant Western opprobrium that this decision would produce, and not only that, but its conservative foreign policy has traditionally seen the country eschew direct participation in far-away conflicts.

While it’s conceivable that China might have some advisors and trainers present in Syria, it’s unlikely to ever move beyond non-combat forces if it can rely on its in-country partners of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Arab Army to kill Uighur terrorists for it instead. All that China wants is for stability to return to the country so that it can invest in turning post-war Syria into a crucial node on the New Silk Road, and the thought that the People’s Republic would riskily deploy its own military forces in pursuit of this is indicative of wishful thinking and a total lack of understanding of the Chinese policymaking agenda and 21st-century grand strategy. It may sound cynical, but China would rather have others fight to stabilize future Silk Road states and then move in to sign deals there afterwards once the smoke settles.

As for the anti-terrorist experience that China could receive from the Syrian battlefield, the argument can be made that the People’s Liberation Army doesn’t have to look any further than neighboring Pakistan if that’s what it wants. The Pakistani military is recognized as the most competent anti-terrorist fighting force in the world and would be more than happy to share what it learned over the years with its Chinese partners, thus rendering any high-stakes deployment to Syria redundant in this regard. That and the aforementioned reasons are why China won’t send its special forces to Syria, and even in the off-chance that it ever does, it wouldn’t have any serious military motivations or consequences anyhow.

The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Dec 22, 2017:

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution. 

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  1. The Chinese absence shows that they are not true ally of Russia or anyone’s else for that matter. But then, the same can be said for Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia etc. Chinese only care about their own interests and cannot be counted on. Russia can’t be counted on either as the latest UN resolution against DPRK shows. For the last 30 years Russian foreign policy was focused exclusively on one goal – to squeeze itself at any cost into the Western club. It didn’t seem to bother Russian leaders that they were unwanted and basically despised. Nevertheless, the price had to be paid as Russia alienated a number of historically close friends and allies. Today, it’s historical enemies are becoming Russia’s new friends and allies for the lack of better choices, like untrustworthy and unreliable hardcore Islamic states Turkey and Iran.

  2. I agree that when it comes to Syria the Russians must be feeling very lonely. Just an ambulance crew, a small technical team or a few mine experts from a friendly country would go long way. Why is no one there?

  3. The mop-up in Syria will be shortened if China sent a presence, if not a fighting force. Humanitarian and military police efforts would free up other Syrian forces to use in the guerrilla-insurgency being mounted to justify US persistence in staying inside Syria.

    As for Pakistan sharing its experience fighting terrorists, they are the protection force for the CPEC. So China is using them to “protect” investment already.

    The point is China has an officer corps and “front line” units with zero experience fighting wars of any sort.
    Would SWAT teams win wars?

    Yes, they can line up a million men if needed in a renewed Korean debacle.

    But the threats are real and will be mounted against everything Chinese from Xinjiang to Damascus, through every Central Asian state, into the Balkans, to Egypt, through the sub-Sahara. If the strategy is to lean on the locals, China will be losing their investments and progression for Eurasia as has happened in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Libya and the two Sudans.

    Tens of billions of investments ruined, not merely delayed. Destroyed.

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