Last month the United Nation Security Council took up a resolution that called for the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, to step down. As one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, China voted against it, along with Russia. China remains adamant in its decision despite the outcry from the international community. This UN stalemate does not help the situation in Syria. On March 2, 2012, the United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon spoke about the continued violence in Damascus. Ban urged the Syrian Government to allow relief workers to help civilians who desperately need aid, a fundamental obligation of human rights that the Syrian Government has not yet honored. Furthermore, Ban condemns the current atrocities in Syria, calling them “appalling,” citing reports of “summary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture.
In response, China’s Foreign Ministry released a six-point statement on March 4th calling for an end to all acts of violence on the Syrian people. Published in China Daily two days after Ban’s public report, China’s statement describes its desire for peace in Syria, yet emphasizes restraint in interference. The government calls for a “full and unconditional” cessation of the violence against civilians on the basis of supporting “the UN’s leading role in coordinating humanitarian relief efforts.” But the statement also emphasizes the need to “respect the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Syria and the right of the Syrian people to independently choose their political system and development path.”
At first glance, China’s statement seems like a change-of-heart. But with a closer look, the government clearly remains committed to non-interference. China’s position remains consistent, but also ineffectual.
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