Beijing defends UN vote on Syria

Updated: 2012-02-18 07:18

By Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)

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China says it condemns all acts of violence against innocent civilians

BEIJING - China's negative vote on a draft resolution on Syria at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday was consistent with China's independent foreign policy of peace and in the best interests of the Syrian situation, officials and experts said.

China opposes armed intervention or forcing a so-called regime change in Syria, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN Wang Min said in explanatory remarks.

"We condemn all acts of violence against innocent civilians and urge the government and all political factions of Syria to immediately and fully end all acts of violence, and quickly restore stability and the normal social order," Wang said.

The resolution on Syria, which was passed with 137 votes in favor, 12 against and 17 abstentions, supports an Arab League plan for political transition in Syria and calls for the appointment of a UN special envoy to the country.

Unlike an earlier resolution of the UN Security Council about Syria, the measure cannot be vetoed in the assembly, but is non-binding.

Bashar Ja'afari, the Syrian permanent representative to the UN, said that the passing of a draft resolution on Syria would only encourage more chaos in the region and embolden armed groups to take more action against the state and civilians.

"In this context, we would like to confirm that any biased, unobjective resolution would only send the wrong message to all of these extremists and terrorists, a message that their violence and their deliberate sabotage received the support of the members states of the UN and their encouragement," said Ja'afari.

Egypt's deputy ambassador to the UN, Osama Abdelkhalek, said the General Assembly had sent an "unambiguous message" to Damascus: "It is high time to listen to the voice of the people."

The approved resolution reflects attempts "to isolate the Syrian leadership, to reject any contact with it, and to impose an external formula for a political settlement", said Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN permanent representative.

"The violence must be stopped by all sides and necessary solutions can only be found through an inclusive political process led by the Syrians themselves," said Churkin.

Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhai Jun arrived in Syria on Friday as part of Beijing's efforts to end the crisis.

The effects of Zhai's visit depends on the willingness of both Syrian authorities and the opposition to deepen dialogue and immediately stop the bloodshed, said An Huihou, former Chinese ambassador to Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon and Egypt.

A meeting named "Friends of Syria Group" will be held in Tunis on Feb 24 to find a way of peacefully ending the conflict.

Final details of the meeting have not yet been laid out, but China believes that the measures the international community and the UN adopt should help to ease tension, promote dialogue and safeguard stability, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a news briefing on Friday.

The draft forcing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down is not in line with the non-interference spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, said Zhang Xiao'an, director of China United Nations Association, adding that it had not been fully discussed before the vote.

"This draft doesn't specify any demand for the opposition to stop violence even though the authority is not the only party involved in the Syrian conflict," she said. The resolution was drafted by Saudi Arabia and submitted by Egypt on behalf of Arab states.

One of the purposes of the non-binding resolution is to pressure Assad as well as China and Russia, who oppose using force, she added.

Syria intends to hold a referendum on Feb 26 on a Constitution that provides for the establishment of a modern democratic Syrian state.

However, the interference of the West would hardly be curbed by Assad's ongoing reform, said Dong Manyuan, an expert at the China Institute of International Studies, adding that the escalating bloodshed would provide the West with more excuses to use force.

China hopes the crisis would be resolved through political and peaceful means within the framework of the Arab League, which recognizes China's mediating efforts and shares views of non-violence with China, he said.

Xinhua contributed to this story.