Syrian Rebels Attack Chinese Diplomats, Embassy
Image Credit: flickr/United Nations - Geneva

Syrian Rebels Attack Chinese Diplomats, Embassy

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Chinese diplomats in Syria as well as Beijing’s embassy are under regular threat from rebel attacks, China’s ambassador to Syria has confided to local media outlets.

In an interview with the Global Times, Zhang Xun, China's ambassador to Syria said that Beijing’s embassy in Damascus has increasingly been caught in the cross-hairs of fighting between rebel and government forces in recent months.

In one notable instance, shrapnel and shell fragments from a mortar attack deflected off a nearby building and landed inside the Chinese embassy.

“A shell hit the ceiling of a building some 60 meters away and the fragments bounced into our building,” Zhang told reporters from the Global Times, showing them the actual shells, which he kept in an envelope in his office.

Zhang said that in another attack last month, Syrian rebels fired mortar shells at President Bashar al-Assad's motorcade. They missed the Syrian leader but hit a building that was located just 10 meters from the Chinese embassy. The shock from the attack damaged the nearby embassy, however.

“Several windows in our corridor were shattered. Some of the shrapnel fell onto my balcony,” Zhang said of the attack, which took place on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

According to the report, the Chinese embassy is located in the heart of Damascus near the Bashar al-Assad’s presidential palace and key military buildings, which unsurprisingly are often the targets of rebel attacks.

Another diplomat from the embassy told the Global Times that Chinese personnel have been targeted directly by rebel forces, particularly when they are meeting with Syrian officials. Indeed, according to a Want China Times report, Zhang was nearly killed in a sniper attack during a meeting he held with Syria’s foreign minister.

The Global Times article says that Zhang now keeps a bullet-proof vest, gas mask and pistol in his office.

There are also reports that the rebels are actively plotting attacks against the Chinese embassy, presumably in retaliation for China’s continued support for the Assad regime. The Want China Times report said that a brigade commander in the Free Syrian Army, one of the rebel forces fighting the Syrian government, has vowed to launch a “full-scale attack” on the Chinese embassy.

Meanwhile, the Global Times claims that a local driver the embassy had employed was arrested earlier this year by Syrian authorities for allegedly planning to place bombs under the embassy car. The article, which said the driver had confessed to the crime, added that he had been recruited by Syrian rebel forces during a trip to Jordan in February.

Following the incident Beijing assigned eight armed Chinese police officers to protect the embassy and its personnel. The only other Chinese embassies to have such protection are those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ambassador Zhang admitted that he has been frightened by the uptick in violence.

“To be honest, it would be a lie if I said I'm not a little bit scared," Zhang was quoted as saying in the report.

This was a dramatic admission given Zhang’s past statements on the issue of safety in the country. Soon after taking over the ambassadorship in 2011, Zhang dismissed concerns that Chinese nationals in Syria were in any danger.

“Their lives are guaranteed and their properties as well,” Zhang told state media at the time, referring to Chinese nationals. “"There is no need for extra worries.”

The Chinese nationals themselves apparently disagreed, judging from the exodus away from the war-torn nation in the nearly two years since then. According to Chinese media reports, there were around 1,200 Chinese nationals inside Syria when Zhang took over as ambassador. Today there are just 20, not counting the embassy staff itself. Eight of those remaining are reporters.

This is probably a huge relief to the Chinese government. Beijing was profoundly affected by the situation in Libya in early 2010, when the Chinese government had to evacuate 36,000 nationals from that country in just 10 days after civil war broke out as part of the initial Arab Spring wave.

Nonetheless, China has remained defiant on maintaining a diplomatic presence in Syria. According to the Global Times report, China is one of just a dozen or so countries that haven’t closed down their embassies during the past two and a half years of fighting. Some of the other countries that have maintained their diplomatic presence in Syria include Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba.

Chinese diplomats in Syria say they intend to continue to hold out in Syria.

“"Diplomats must stick to their positions until the last Chinese national willing to leave Syria is pulled out,” GT quoted one person at the embassy as saying. 

Comments
17
bobokoko
September 17, 2013 at 07:06

Prez Obama's campaign against Syria is no different from Malaysia's currently ongoing campaign targeting people with tattoos on their bodies – annoint them (cuz  ' I 'give the order), seek them out, get hold of them and punish them ! End of story. No checks or balance and no arguing.

Errol
September 17, 2013 at 00:24

And with China's rise, it will soon take first place. Cheers! It's lonely at the top.

Errol
September 17, 2013 at 00:23

Anyone thinking it can use Al-Qaeda to further one's national interests is in for a disappointment. Better to tame a rabid dog. AQ will do what it wants and does not follow the usual political alignments.

careout
September 16, 2013 at 22:28

Wow, you're a total expert on the issue. But just one tiny little thing has been left out – have you ever considered the situation that has befallen the minorities in Syria. I gather most people in the U.S. White House don't regard them as Syrian citizens ( like in my country, where minorities are often mislabelled as aliens). Thanks, anyway. Hope the Diplomat won't dump my comment.

Kanes
September 16, 2013 at 10:41

Although Russia has defended Assad, an AQ victory in Syria just a year to go for the withdrawel in Afghanistan is a win for Russia in the long run. Petroleum co-operation and naval base co-operation with the Saudis are also beneficial for Russia in post-Assad era. There is nothing to say such events would not take place.

When AQ is strong, it goes after western interests (among others) and proliferation of western style democracy. It is also in Russian best interests.

LibertyGuy
September 15, 2013 at 21:02

Putin's unwavering support of Assad and his regime assures that the bloodbath will continue. By strengthening Assad, Putin acts counter to the UN resolutions, to include a one-sided vote by the General Assembly, that call on Assad to step down so that efforts can be made to negotiate with the opposition to include all groups in a democratic government that necessarily must exclude the Jihadists.

 

If Putin would join with Prez Obama to focus on the Jihadists, instead of himself choosing up sides and thereby forcing others to choose up sides, the moderate forces supported by the international community would stand a much better possibility of being able to establish a new inclusive government of Syria that could stabilize the country and restore a reasonable peace.

 

Putin is Assad's only friend along with Iran, both of which are outside the Arab region. Putin has alienated himself from the other Arab governments and among the peoples of the Middle East, and he has complicated Israel's always tenuous position in the region. The Arabs already don't like or trust Iran and its nuclear program further complicates the region.

 

Putin is more interested in trying to empower himself globally and to try to restore the status of Russia since the collapse of the USSR, for which Putin was a KGB agent. To think of Putin as some kind or any kind of diplomat is one of the greatest jokes of our time. The Russian foreign minister is another Russian, not a diplomat.

Putin's unwavering support of Assad and his regime assures that the bloodbath will continue. By strengthening Assad, Putin acts counter to the UN resolutions, to include a one-sided vote by the General Assembly, that call on Assad to step down so that efforts can be made to negotiate with the opposition to include all groups in a democratic government that necessarily must exclude the Jihadists.

 

If Putin would join with Prez Obama to focus on the Jihadists, instead of himself choosing up sides and thereby forcing others to choose up sides, the moderate forces supported by the international community would stand a much better possibility of being able to establish a new inclusive government of Syria that could stabilize the country and restore a reasonable peace.

 

Putin is Assad's only friend along with Iran, both of which are outside the Arab region. Putin has alienated himself from the other Arab governments and among the peoples of the Middle East, and he has complicated Israel's always tenuous position in the region. The Arabs already don't like or trust Iran and its nuclear program further complicates the region.

 

Putin is more interested in trying to empower himself globally and to try to restore the status of Russia since the collapse of the USSR, for which Putin was a KGB agent. To think of Putin as some kind or any kind of diplomat is one of the greatest jokes of our time. The Russian foreign minister is another Russian, not a diplomat.

JAG
September 15, 2013 at 16:04

Obama is going to get us all killed.

Bingchuan
September 15, 2013 at 02:39

well, US diplomats are the most attacked targets in the world

Nowwin
September 15, 2013 at 00:25

Then we know why US citizenship are attacked everywhere 

JohnX
September 14, 2013 at 14:52

China wished to be a superpower.

 

Now it can feel the hate that superpowers attract.

not syrian
September 14, 2013 at 13:52

Don't forget that this all started becasue the Syrian police brutally beat anti government graffiti artists.  Syrians protested, Assad sent russian tanks to 'smash' the protesters.   967 civilians died.   

Guest
September 14, 2013 at 04:48

The U.S. needs to stay out of this.

‘Horror on both sides’ French mag runs photo of Syrian rebels beheading ‘pro-regime ilitiaman’ [Graphic pic]

http://twitchy.com/2013/09/12/horror-on-both-sides-french-mag -runs-photo-of-syrian-rebels-beheading-pro-regime-militiaman-graphic-pic

Paris Match rxplains publication of beheading pix. “In Syria, thete is horror on both sides.”

Paris Match did not make all of their pics available. All of the pivs that they released are available only in the newsstand version.

papa john
September 14, 2013 at 00:22

It is expected. China has to pay a heavy price for supporting a murder regime.

AllFriend
September 13, 2013 at 18:31

The USA is supporting terror attacks against Chinese citizens in Syria, this cannot stand, it is China stood up and take the fight back to this disgrace.

Bankotsu
September 13, 2013 at 17:35

These are the "allies" the west is arming in Syria. Enemy of my enemy is my friend indeed.

Kanes
September 13, 2013 at 14:41

Jumped the gun!

9 dashes, 4 dishes, 1 soup
September 13, 2013 at 10:03

America's allies in Syria: 

 
1. Al Qaeda

2. Muslim Brotherhood

3. Convicted Saudi Arabian death row inmates

http://www.globalresearch.ca/saudi-arabia-death-row-inmates-sent-to-fight-assad-in-syria/5349416

 

Assad looks good compared to the US allies. Putin has this one right. The US should listen to him. This is basically a proxy religious war between Shias & Sunnis, Iran & the Gulf Emirates. BTW, the rebels tend to be foreign – not Syrian. Saudi is financing them. 

  

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