Bloomberg News

China Urges Syria to Implement Changes to Help End Violence

October 11, 2011

Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- China said President Bashar al- Assad’s government should “respond to the Syrian people’s reasonable expectations” and implement its pledges to create a pluralistic political system to end seven months of unrest.

“China is highly concerned about the situation in Syria, is against the use of violence, and we hope not to see any more bloodshed and casualties,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Weimin, said today in Beijing at a regular press briefing. “The Syrian government should move faster to honor its reform pledges and quickly initiate and push forward the inclusive political process with the broad participation of all parties.”

Protests to demand Assad’s ouster are part of the wave of unrest across the Middle East and North Africa that has unseated governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya this year. Assad has blamed the unrest in Syria on foreign-backed extremists. At least 4,000 civilians have been killed by security forces in the uprising, Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria said in an interview yesterday.

Russia and China vetoed a United Nations resolution backed by the U.S. and European nations on Oct. 4 that threatened sanctions against Syria. Russia, which has multibillion-dollar arms contracts and a naval base in Soviet-era ally Syria, has vowed to block any UN resolution that could be used as a cover for seeking regime change, after the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Sanctions ‘Not Conducive’

The draft resolution put forward only “exerted pressure on Syria and threatened to use sanctions, which is not conducive to alleviating the situation in Syria,” Liu said. “We hope the Security Council’s relevant actions should be conducive to easing the tensions in Syria, promoting political dialogue to solve differences and maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East.”

The leaders of the opposition Syrian National Council, formed Oct. 2, are trying to follow the path taken by Libya’s rebels, whose National Transitional Council became the main governing authority in the North African country in late August after Qaddafi’s overthrow.

The Syrian council sought international support this week, holding meetings in Sweden and Egypt to seek recognition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, Faruk Tayfur, the body’s deputy chairman, told Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency. The group, which includes the Muslim Brotherhood, aims to coordinate the struggle to end Assad’s 11-year rule while calling for the use of peaceful means to remove him from power, Anatolia reported.

‘Severe’ Retaliation

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Muallem said Oct. 9 his government would retaliate with “severe” measures if any country formally recognized the opposition umbrella group.

Libya’s NTC closed the Syrian Embassy in Tripoli yesterday and recognized the Syrian council as the representative of the nation’s people, Al-Arabiya reported yesterday. The European Union yesterday welcomed the formation of the council, calling it a “positive step forward,” according to a statement by EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg.

The “relevant parties in Syria should actively participate in the political resolution process,” Liu said. “China supports all efforts that are conducive to achieving those goals and bringing an early stabilization to Syria.”

--With assistance from Dingmin Zhang in Beijing and Inal Ersan in Dubai. Editors: Heather Langan, Karl Maier

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Massoud A. Derhally in Beirut, Lebanon, at mderhally@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.


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