BEIJING - China called on Friday for both sides in Syria to halt the violence and implement envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan, in the face of rising calls to back tougher action against President Bashar Assad's government.
China "strongly condemns" the deaths of innocent civilians and calls for the perpetrators to be punished, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a daily news briefing.
Developments in Syria make Annan's efforts more, not less, important, Liu added.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that full-blown civil war in Syria was "imminent," and Annan said it was time to step up the pressure on Damascus to halt the violence. China has repeatedly said it opposes external intervention in Syria.