Beijing backs Syrian Golan claim

China to build an oil refinery in Syria, search for oil off Mediterranean coast.

Olmert Jiabao 298 AP (photo credit: AP)
Olmert Jiabao 298 AP
(photo credit: AP)
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said on Tuesday that his country supported Syria's claims to the Golan Heights, the Syrian news agency SANA reported. The government-controlled service also claimed that, in a meeting with Syrian Deputy Premier for Economic Affairs Abdullah Dardari, Jiabao expressed China's commitment to boosting ties with Syria and developing them in all areas. Last year China upset Israel by inviting the foreign minister of the Hamas-led PA government - boycotted by Israel and the West - to attend a conference in Beijing. China is Israel's third-largest trading partner, following the United States and Germany. Meanwhile, Jiabao and Dardari finalized a $1 billion deal for China to build a large oil refinery, with a potential output of 70,000 barrels a day in Syria. The refinery would be financed by China's biggest state-owned oil company, the China National Petroleum Corp., and a Syrian petroleum company, Xinhua said, citing Dardari. Syria wants to import Chinese technology to increase production at Syrian oil fields, Dardari said. "Oil field cooperation is a crucial component (of cooperation) between Syria and China," Xinhua quoted Dardari as saying. A Syrian official told Chinese media that his country intended to upgrade five old oil fields and step up production. It has also been reported that Chinese companies would begin searching for oil off the Syrian coast. Dardari, SANA reported, called upon China to help establish different projects in Syria, and thanked Beijing for backing "Arab issues" and "Syria's right to restore its occupied lands." The Associated Press contributed to this report.