CAIRO - A new YouTube video shows a Chinese Han citizen fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, a move seen by analysts as a message to Beijing to change position on the Syrian conflict.
Bashar al-Assad "is butchering every Muslim here in cold blood, including children and women, the Chinese man who identified himself as Yusef said in Mandarin in the video cited by The New York Times on Saturday, March 30."People have no freedom, no democracy, no security and no respect here, not at all, added the man, whose Chinese name as Bo Wang appears in subtitle in English.
The video was first posted on YouTube on March 17 by a user named ayahm84.
Later on, it appeared on Youku, a popular video-sharing site in China, by someone using the handle of Bashar al-Assad.
It was quickly deleted from there, possibly by censors aware that the material was too delicate for the sensibilities of Chinese officials.
In the video, the man tells the Chinese government to drop its support for Assad or "all Islamic countries of the world will unite to impose economic sanctions against the Chinese government."
The video, which runs for three minutes, 26 seconds, opens with the chanting of an Islamic anthem and title cards showing white text on black background.
The title screen says in Arabic: The Mujahedeen Brigade in the Land of Sham, which is another name for Syria.
More text says the video is a message to the Chinese people from the media division of the mujahedeen in the land of Sham.
The video showed the Chinese fighter walking through a field of purple and yellow flowers, which resembles North Syria, and raising his Kalashnikov rifle to fire three shots into the air.
Attacking Assad's regime, he goes on to speak of 1,400-year-old ties between the Chinese and the Arabs, stretching to the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) and the Tang dynasty, when the Silk Road thrived.
"However, he says, now the Chinese government has destroyed that traditional friendship between the Chinese and Arab people because Chinese leaders, along with their Iranian and Russian counterparts, sell weapons and provide financial assistance to the Assad government.
Message to China
Analysts opine that the video sends a clear message to the Chinese government to change its policy of supporting Al-Assad.
"We've of course heard of American and other Western converts fighting alongside jihadis, said Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Georgetown University and a former RAND Corporation analyst who studies insurgencies and terrorism.
I know of no Han Chinese, though. I would imagine that Chinese officials â¦ will not be pleased with this development."
The Han are the dominant ethnic group in China and generally do not follow Islam.
The two most prominent Muslim ethnic groups in China are the Hui and the Uighurs, who complain of discrimination by ethnic Han and by the Han-dominated Communist Party.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it did not have immediate comment.
The Chinese fighter is not the only foreigner to join Syrian opposition forces against the Assad regime.
Estimates show that dozens of Muslims from Chechnya and North Caucasus are fighting in Syria against Assad's forces.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in two years of between Assad's security forces and opposition forces.
The fighting has forced more than one million Syrians to flee their home to neighboring countries in addition to the displacement of two millions others inside the country.
There is no end in sight to the conflict in Syria, which has divided world powers.China, Russia and Shiite Iran support Assad, while the United States, along with some European and Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab nations back a fractured opposition.