BEIJING There can never be a pretext for foreign intervention in Syria no matter how good the intentions, China's top newspaper said on Tuesday ahead of a U.N. Security Council vote on a Western-backed resolution that threatens sanctions.
The resolution, proposed by Britain, the United States, France and Germany, would extend a U.N. observer mission in Syria for 45 days and place international envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.
Chapter 7 allows the 15-member council to authorize actions ranging from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military intervention. U.S. officials have said they are talking about sanctions on Syria, not military intervention.
China and Russia have previously vetoed resolutions designed to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
While China has yet to explicitly say how it will vote on Wednesday on the new resolution, comments in the Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily suggest it will not be won over, with Beijing nervous about any suggestions of intervention.
"Foreign interference to bring about regime change to forcefully prevent a humanitarian disaster sounds like a fully just and responsible thing to do," the newspaper said in a commentary.
"But is it not a humanitarian disaster that more than a decade after regime change that there are attacks and bombings which there are no way to stop?" it added, in an apparent allusion to Iraq.
"Several wars that have happened in this new century prove again and again that 'promoting democracy' and 'humanitarianism' are just a pretext for large foreign powers to seek private gain," the People's Daily commentary said.
China and Russia say they are committed to the peace plan drafted by U.N. envoy Annan which proposes national dialogue.
U.N. peace monitors effectively gave up on their mission last month after just weeks in Syria as it became clear there was no peace to monitor.
The People's Daily said Western military backing for Libya's rebels should be "a warning to us all" about the perils of foreign involvement.
"Do those who eulogize the 'meritorious statesmen' at NATO who went to war to end the Gadaffi era think about the tens of thousands of innocent people carried off by the flames of war?" it said.
"There are no international treaties which bestow the power on foreign leaders to get rid of or appoint other national leaders."
The commentary was published under the pen name "Zhong Sheng", meaning "Voice of China", which is often used to give the paper's view on foreign policy issues.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait)