Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has arrived in China for high-level talks on the expansion of political and economic relations between the two countries, marking his first official trip to the East Asian country in almost two decades.
Assad arrived in the Chinese eastern city of Hangzhou on Thursday, where he is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the Asian Games along with more than a dozen foreign dignitaries at the weekend.
He will also lead a delegation for a series of meetings in several Chinese cities, including a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The latest visit comes amid a shift among countries to improve relations with Damascus which found itself in the grip of a foreign-backed militancy and terrorism in 2011.
China could play a major role in the future of Syria’s reconstruction, which is expected to cost tens of billions of dollars, observers say.