China envoy meets Assad, backs Syria election plan

Chinese vice foreign minister calls for end to violence, Syria state TV reports; Syrian forces renew bombardment of opposition stronghold Homs as snow covers the city.

By REUTERS
February 18, 2012 11:53
2 minute read.
Chinese diplomats in Damascus

Chinese diplomats in Damascus_390. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

AMMAN/BEIRUT - China said on Saturday it backed Syrian President Bashar Assad's plans for a referendum and multi-party elections to resolve the Syria crisis, a show of support against world condemnation of the Syrian leader's crackdown on a popular uprising.

After meeting Assad in Damascus, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun also called for an immediate end to the violence by all sides in the 11-month-old conflict.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Assad announced his plan on Wednesday for a referendum on a new constitution on Feb. 26 followed by a multi-party election. The Syrian opposition and the West swiftly dismissed it as sham.

"We hope that the referendum on the constitution and the parliamentary elections take place in a continuous way," Zhai said, according to Syrian state television monitored in Beirut.

"China supports the path of reform taking place in Syria and the important steps that have been taken in this respect."

The Chinese state news agency Xinhua highlighted Zhai's comments that China was "deeply concerned by the escalating crisis and wanted the government and various political factions in the country to end all acts of violence against civilians".

The Syrian report quoted him as saying: "The Chinese experience shows a nation cannot develop without stability".

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:


China and Russia have been Assad's most important international defenders during the crackdown which has killed several thousand people and divided world powers. The United Nations, the United States, Europe, Turkey and Arab powers want Assad to step down and have condemned the ferocious repression.

Beijing and Moscow vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Feb. 4 calling on Assad to quit and also voted against a similar, non-binding General Assembly resolution on Thursday.

Bombing the opposition

Syrian government forces meanwhile renewed their bombardment of the opposition stronghold of Homs on Saturday.

A blanket of snow covered Homs, on the highway between Damascus and the commercial hub Aleppo, as Syrian troops pounded mainly Sunni Muslim rebel districts with rockets and artillery.

The troops were close to Baba Amro, a southern neighborhood that has been target of the heaviest barrages since the armored offensive began two weeks ago, activists said.

"Troops have closed in on Baba Amro and the bombardment is mad, but I don't know if they are willing to storm the neighborhood while it is snowing," activist Mohammad al-Homsi said from Homs.

"There is no electricity and communications between districts are cut, so we are unable to get a death toll... there is no fuel in most of the city."

Click for full JPost coverage

On Friday, opposition activists reported anti-Assad demonstrations in Damascus, Aleppo and other cities after weekly Friday prayers. Security forces shot dead at least three demonstrators in the capital after prayers, they said.

The West has ruled out Libya-style military intervention, instead imposing sanctions and urging a fragmented opposition, which includes activists inside Syria, armed rebels and politicians in exile, to present a common front against Assad.

Tunisia, which is hosting a meeting on Syria next week, said on Friday Arab countries would encourage the opposition to unite before they would recognize them as a government-in-waiting.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

The aftermath of an Iranian ballistic missile strike on the Koya headquarters of the KDP-I Iranian o
November 15, 2018
Senior IRGC commander: Israeli agent killed in September strikes on Kurds

By ANNA AHRONHEIM