As we already know, US Republican presidential candidates as of late do not always say the smartest things about Syria or the wider Arab world. Dr Ben Carson in particular has become the target of mockery for his absurd claims that Egypt’s pyramids were built for grain storage by the biblical Joseph. This is the man who is currently leading the polls alongside Donald Trump.
One of the most surprising things that Carson suggested during a recent debate was that China was involved militarily in the Syrian conflict. And instead of backing down from what many thought was a gaffe, he decided to back up his statements with “evidence” and claim that his sources are better than those of the White House.
So how absurd are his claims? Here’s what we know:
1. In a response to Carson's comments, Susan Rice, the US National Security Adviser, said that she has "not seen any evidence of Chinese military involvement in Syria." Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes emphasised this point, saying that “China makes it a practice to not get extended into military conflicts in the Middle East.”
2. So far, the claims of Chinese involvement are unsubstantiated and often come from questionable sources. Take for example an obscure right-wing Israeli site called DEBKAfile which recently claimed that Chinese warplanes will be joining Russia in airstrikes in Syria. But this has still not been proven.
3. China is not thought to have any real strategic interest in the Syrian war. Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, told Business Insider that “[t]he Chinese government has made clear that they don't have any forces there and they aren't planning to send any.”
Carson’s claims are not yet backed up with real evidence, which means that for now it is probably safe to assume that China is not militarily involved in Syria—although that list is getting smaller and smaller.
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