China to send envoy in bid to ease Syria crisis

Chinese envoy aims to staunch violence that has divided Beijing from Western and Arab powers who demand reining in Assad.

March 5, 2012 13:09
1 minute read.
China to send envoy in bid to ease Syria crisis

Syrian crisis continues 370 R. (photo credit: Reuters)


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BEIJING - China said on Monday it will send an envoy to Syria in a fresh bid to help staunch violence there that has divided Beijing from Western and Arab powers demanding stronger action to rein in the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Li Huaxin, the country's former ambassador to Syria, will visit there for two days from Tuesday, promoting a six-point plan that Beijing issued on the weekend as the basis of a solution to the violence.

While announcing ambassador Li's visit, the foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Weimin, sounded a somber warning about the fighting that has sent refugees spilling into Lebanon.

"Currently the situation in Syria continues to heat up and become more serious. The conflicts between various parties in Syria remain stark, and the international community has differing views on how to ease the Syrian crisis as quickly as possible," Liu told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

The envoy's trip appears to be China's latest initiative to counter accusations from Western and Arab governments that it and Russia abetted expanding violence by Assad's forces by vetoing the UN's two resolutions aimed at pressuring him.

The UN says Syrian security forces have killed more than 7,500 civilians since the revolt against the Assad family's four-decade rule began in March last year.

On the weekend, Beijing laid out its stance on Syria in a six-point statement that warned other powers not to use humanitarian aid for Syria to "interfere" there, and urged Assad's government and other warring sides to "immediately, fully and unconditionally" stop fighting.

China has also long been reluctant to back international intervention in domestic turmoil. That wariness was reignited last year when NATO forces cited a UN resolution to protect civilians in warring Libya as authority for an air bombing campaign that was crucial to eventually ousting Muammar Gaddafi.

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