China defends Syria veto, doubts West's intentions

Veto exposes rift over international role as Chinese state-run media suggests distrust of Western intervention lay behind the vote.

By REUTERS
February 6, 2012 07:54
1 minute read.
United Nations Security Council

United Nations Security Council 311 (R). (photo credit: Mike Segar / Reuters)

 
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BEIJING - China's state-run media on Monday defended the government's rejection of a UN resolution pressing Syrian President Bashar Assad to abandon power, saying Western intervention in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq showed the error of forced regime change.

The People's Daily, the top newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party, set out in a commentary a defense of the decision to join Russia at the weekend in vetoing a draft UN resolution that would have backed an Arab plan urging Assad to quit after months of worsening bloodshed.

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The newspaper suggested that Chinese distrust of Western intervention lay behind the veto, which drew condemnation from Western governments with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling it a "travesty."

"The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate and numbers of civilian casualties keep rising," the newspaper, which echoes government thinking, said in the commentary.

"Vetoing the draft Security Council resolution does not mean we are giving free rein to letting this heart-rending state of affairs continue."

The author of the commentary used the pen name "Zhong Sheng," which can mean "voice of China" and is often used to give the government's position on foreign policy.

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The conflicting Chinese and Western positions on Syria exposed a more general rift about how China should use its rising influence and whether it should foresake its long-standing, albeit unevenly applied, principle of non-interference in other countries' domestic conflicts.

Russia and China's veto came a day after activists say that Syrian forces bombarded a district of the city of Homs, killing more than 200 people in the worst bloodshed of the 11-month Syrian uprising.

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