After six years of civil war in Syria, the country’s economy is crippled.
Wide ranging US and European sanctions against Bashar al-Assad’s government mean China is increasingly stepping in to supply the country.
Damascus says China is now Syria’s biggest trading partner.
In the western city of Hama industry is growing pushed there by the destruction in other war ravaged areas.
At a shoe making factory new Chinese machinery arrived recently.
One of the factory’s co-owners, Abdul Al-Moudy, said: “We have been importing raw materials and machines from China for nearly seven years, because of the European sanctions imposed on Syria.”
Hama is a currently a government stronghold with economic reconstruction underway.
There is major input from Assad’s foreign allies – Russia and China – as they position themselves to help rebuild the country when the war ends.
For now they are supplying everything from weapons systems to lathes and machine tools.
Muaz Khalouf, with Hama’s Chamber of Commerce, said: “Chinese companies provide various equipment to Syria. China is the country that has offered the most help for Syria’s industrial development. It is restarting Syria’s industry so that the country will develop once again.”
As well as the many lives that the war has cost Syria, the total economic losses so far are calculated at around 255 billion euros.
The effects will be felt for decades. It is estimated that even if the war ended now it would take 10 to 15 years for Syria’s per capita GDP to return to pre-conflict levels.
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