February 19, 2008 / 1:19 AM / 11 years ago

China's U.N. envoy speaks out against Kosovo move

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s ambassador to the United Nations has warned that Kosovo’s independence declaration could cause conflict and undermine the U.N., and repeated his country’s “deep concern” over the nascent state’s unilateral move.

Wang Guangya told an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council, of which China is a veto-wielding member, that negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia should continue, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

“The issue of Kosovo status does have its special nature,” Wang told the session.

“Nevertheless, to terminate negotiations, give up pursuit of a solution acceptable to both parties and replace such efforts with unilateral action will certainly constitute a serious challenge to the fundamental principles of international law.”

His remarks underscore those of China’s Foreign Ministry in Beijing, which said on Monday that the country was “deeply worried about the grave negative impact” that Kosovo’s independence would have in the region.

The majority ethnic Albanian territory, once ruled as a part of Serbia, has been under United Nations supervision since 1999, when NATO bombing forced the withdrawal of Serb forces that had been attacking Albanians there.

Kosovo’s action sets a worrying precedent for China’s own territorial integrity. China claims the self-governing island of Taiwan as its own and faces separatist sentiments in its far-western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet.

Wang said U.N. Security Council resolution 1244, which gave the U.N. the authority to administer Kosovo, could not be unilaterally jettisoned.

“If a resolution adopted by the Security Council is not observed and implemented, the resolution in question would become a mere scrap of paper,” Xinhua quoted him as saying.

“What’s more, the authority and credibility of the Security Council as the primary organ for safeguarding world peace and security would be compromised.”

Wang also called on the European Union to “make greater efforts to reconcile the positions of Serbia and Kosovo”.

Europe’s major powers and the United States have said they recognized Kosovo’s new independence, but China joins Russia, Spain and Serbia among others in opposing the move.

Reporting by Lindsay Beck, editing by Ken Wills and Sanjeev Miglani

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