Assad arrived aboard an Air China plane amid heavy fog, which Chinese state media said “added to the atmosphere of mystery” in a nod to the fact the Syrian leader has seldom been seen since the start of a war that has claimed over half a million lives.
Assad is due to attend the opening ceremony of the Asian Games along with more than a dozen foreign dignitaries, the foreign ministry announced earlier.
In a statement on Tuesday, Assad’s presidential office said he would lead a senior delegation for a series of meetings in several Chinese cities, including a summit with President Xi Jinping.
Assad last visited China in 2004 to meet then-President Hu Jintao. It was the first visit by a Syrian head of state to China since the countries established diplomatic ties in 1956.
China – like Syria’s main allies Russia and Iran – maintained those ties even as other countries isolated Assad over the war.