BEIJING, Sept 5 China backs a "political
transition" in Syria to end worsening bloodshed after 18 months
of unrest, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said on
Wednesday while repeating Beijing's opposition to forceful
The government of President Bashar al-Assad has been beset
by growing opposition and armed rebellion, and Yang's remarks
highlighted Beijing efforts to accommodate calls for change
while resisting Western pressure to open the way to military
"We and many countries all support a period of political
transition in Syria," Yang said at a news conference after talks
with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"But we also believe that any solution should come from the
people of Syria and reflect their wishes," he said. "It should
not be imposed from outside."
On June 30, China joined other world powers in agreeing that
a transitional government should be formed in Syria.
China has also repeatedly urged the Syrian
government to talk with the opposition and take steps to meet
public demands for political change.
But China is wary of calls for change snowballing into
foreign intervention, and Yang's remarks reflected that caution.
Last year, China joined Russia in approving a U.N. Security
Council resolution on intervening in Libya, but later suggested
NATO powers had exceeded the U.N. mandate by expanding a bombing
campaign that proved decisive in toppling Muammar Gaddafi.
China and Russia are wary of a repeat in Syria.
"We advocate that Syria should initiate a political
transition process led by the Syrian people as soon as
possible," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a
daily briefing after Yang's remarks.
"We believe Syria's independence, sovereignty and
territorial integrity should be respected."
CHINA "IMPARTIAL" ON SYRIA
Lakhdar Brahimi, the new United Nations-Arab League mediator
on Syria, has described his bid to broker peace there as "nearly
impossible" but Yang stuck to a more hopeful message.
"I said in a phone call (to Brahimi) that China fully
supports his mediation efforts and we hope all the parties will
also support his mediation efforts so there can be an
appropriate and peaceful solution to the situation in Syria,"
"On the question of Syria, let me emphasize that China is
not partial to any individual or any party," he said.
"We hope that members of the international community will
bring their positive influence to bear and get the various
parties in Syria to adopt a realistic, calm and constructive
attitude so that there can be an early beginning of political
dialogue and transition."
The U.N. General Assembly last month overwhelmingly approved
a non-binding resolution expressing "grave concern" at the
escalation of violence and condemned the U.N. Security Council
for its failure to take strong action.
But the Security Council has been prevented from taking
stronger action by China and Russia, which have blocked three
Western-backed resolutions that criticised Assad and threatened
sanctions against Syria. A council meeting on the crisis on
Thursday achieved nothing new.
Yang said China stood by a principle of non-intervention in
the affairs of other countries.
Clinton acknowledged it was "no secret" the U.S. government
was disappointed by the positions of China and Russia and
reiterated that the best course of action remained tough U.N.
Security Council action.
"We hope to continue to unite behind a real path forward to
end the violence in Syria," Clinton said.
Meanwhile, she said, the United States would work with
like-minded countries to plan for the day when Assad leaves
power, "because we are convinced that he will".