China proposes new initiatives for Syria ceasefire

BEIJING Thu Nov 1, 2012 8:40am EDT

1 of 2. Members of the Free Syrian Army set up a fire to obscure the Kurdish militants' vision, while standing alert during a truce on the top of a hilly mountain in the Kurdish area of al-Qaftal, overlooking the town of Azaz, October 31, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Thursday it had proposed new initiatives to head off an escalation of violence in Syria, including a phased, region-by-region ceasefire and the establishment of a transitional governing body.

China has been strongly criticized by some in the Arab world for failing to take a stronger stance on the violence in Syria and has subsequently been keen to show it is trying to take a more proactive role in resolving the crisis.

The Chinese plan, proposed on Wednesday to Lakhdar Brahimi, the visiting United Nations-Arab League joint peace envoy on Syria, comes after the collapse of the latest ceasefire proposal to stop the fighting over the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

The 19-month-old conflict, in which rebels are trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad, has killed about 32,000 people.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing that under the "new proposal there are constructive new suggestions such as a ceasefire region by region and phase by phase, and establishing a transitional governing body".

He said it was "an extension of China's effort to push for a political resolution of the Syrian issue".

Guo Xian'gang, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, a government think tank, said the latest proposal did not herald a change in Beijing's position, "but it makes it more concrete".

"China has always maintained the principle of peaceful resolution of the Syria problem, that anti-government forces should achieve peace through dialogue, without outside armed intervention," Guo said.

Brahimi met on Wednesday with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who said the world should act with greater urgency to support Brahimi's mediation efforts.

"More and more countries have come to realize that a military option offers no way out, and a political settlement has become an increasingly shared aspiration," Hong said.

"China's new proposal is aimed at building international consensus and supporting Brahimi's mediation efforts ... and push forward for relevant parties in Syria to realize an early ceasefire and end of violence, and launch a political transition process led by the Syrian people at an early date."

China and Russia, both permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, have vetoed three Western-backed U.N. draft resolutions condemning Assad's government for the bloodshed.

But China has been keen to show it is not taking sides and has urged the Syrian government to talk to the opposition and take steps to meet demands for political change.

In the latest wave of violence, rebels killed 28 Syrian army soldiers on Thursday in an attack on three checkpoints around the town of Saraqeb straddling the main north-south highway, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

(Reporting by Terril Yue Jones; Editing by Jeremy Laurence and Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (3)
HDSS wrote:
Why should China be involved? In order to invade and remove the Iran problem, Israel needs to remove its greatest threat to its survival. Wasn’t it both Israel and the US supplying arms via Libya through Turkey to the Syrian resistance forces? Perhaps, it was a motivate for the Syrian government to use the claimed rioters (pro Taliban type forces) in Libya to circumvent the US and Turkey meeting that was being held versus the falsities we have been costumed to by liberal media. Israel cannot face two fronts; especially from Syria, which has the latest Russian and captured Iraq weapons of mass destruction. This is why Israel delayed its intention to rid of its worst neighbor – IRAN.

Nov 01, 2012 8:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Spacetime wrote:
Iran and Syria are admired by the right people of the world for their efforts helping the weaponless Palestinian resisting Israel’s genocide sponsored by the Us. China always stands with the heroic Arabs.

Nov 01, 2012 12:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Free_Pacific wrote:

Iran is not an arab country. Please give references to Israeli genocide, thats a serious charge.

China only stands with the Assad regime (representing a minority in Syria), Not the ‘Arabs’, after all, it vetoed resolutions sponsored by ‘The Arab League’, that puts China against them, not with them.

Also, if China is looking for people to ‘stand with’, it certainly has to look far and wide, as none of China’s neighbours aside from Russia stand with her (for convenience) and for good reason. China is not a good neighbour.

Nov 02, 2012 2:07am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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