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Chinese Envoy Pushes Peace Plan in Damascus

Chinese Ambassador Li Huaxin speaks to reporters after he met with Syrian assistant Foreign Minister Ahmed Arnus, March 6, 2012.

Chinese Ambassador Li Huaxin speaks to reporters after he met with Syrian assistant Foreign Minister Ahmed Arnus, March 6, 2012.

A Chinese envoy has arrived in Syria to press for an unconditional halt to violence in the country and the beginning of political dialogue.

Li Huaxin, a former ambassador to Damascus, said Wednesday he was meeting officials to explain a six-point peace plan put forward by Beijing on Sunday.

"This visit aims at elaborating this proposal [the six points]," said Li. "Another goal of this visit is to discuss with the Syrian side about the current situation in the country. This is what our talk was about. I explained China's stance and the basis of China's proposal."

Li said he was also seeking to learn more from officials about conditions in the country, where Syrian troops have been waging fierce battles against lightly armed and civilian opponents of the government. A foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing said China has also been in contact with Syrian opposition groups.

China came under harsh international criticism after it acted with Russia to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution that called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the veto "despicable."

The Chinese plan, seen as a response to that criticism, calls for an unconditional halt to all violence, particularly against innocent civilians. It provides for the immediate beginning of a political dialogue through the mediation of the United Nations and the Arab League.

The plan also calls for all countries to respect Syria's sovereignty and for the United Nations to play a lead role in coordinating humanitarian-relief efforts.

Li may get a sympathetic hearing in Damascus because of Beijing's defense of the Assad government at the U.N. Security Council. One Damascus resident welcomed China's longstanding opposition to interference in the internal affairs of any country.

"The most important thing is that China is against foreign interference of Syrian issues. China holds that it is up to Syria to plan out how to solve Syrian crisis," said the resident. "We wish all the conflicts could be ended by any means."

The resident, who declined to be identified, said Syrians are anxious for peace.

China's six-point plan says specifically that Beijing opposes any armed interference or attempt to impose "regime change" in Syria.

<table class="promoFeature imgBg" style="width: 200px; height: 239px;" align="right">
<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>China's Peace Plan for Syria</strong></p>
<li style="font-size: small;">1. The Syrian Government and all parties concerned should immediately, fully and unconditionally cease all acts of violence, particularly violence against innocent civilians. Various factions in Syria should express political aspirations through non-violent means.</li>
<li style="font-size: small;">
2. The Syrian Government and various factions should bear in mind the long-term and fundamental interests of their country and people, immediately launch an inclusive political dialogue with no preconditions attached or outcome predetermined through impartial mediation of the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations (U.N.) and the Arab League (AL) agree on a comprehensive and detailed road-map and timetable for reform through consultation and implement them as soon as possible with a view to restoring national stability and public order..</li>
<li style="font-size: small;">3. China supports the U.N.' s leading role in coordinating humanitarian relief efforts. China maintains that under the precondition of respecting Syria's sovereignty, the U.N. or an impartial body acceptable to all parties should make an objective and comprehensive assessment of the humanitarian situation in Syria, ensure the delivery and distribution of humanitarian aid. China is ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people. We oppose anyone interfering in Syria' s internal affairs under the pretext of "humanitarian" issues.</li>
<li style="font-size: small;">4. Relevant parties of the international community should earnestly respect the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Syria and the right of the Syrian people to independently choose their political system and development path, create conditions and provide necessary and constructive assistance for the various political factions of Syria to launch dialogue, and respect the outcome of dialogue. China does not approve of armed interference or pushing for "regime change" in Syria, and believes that use or threat of sanctions does not help to resolve this issue appropriately.</li>
<li style="font-size: small;">
5. China welcomes the appointment of the Joint Special Envoy on the Syrian crisis by the U.N .and the AL and supports him in playing a constructive role in bringing about the political resolution of the crisis. China supports the active efforts made by the Arab states and the AL to promote a political solution to the crisis.</li>
<li style="font-size: small;">
6. Members of the Security Council should strictly abide by the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter and the basic norms governing international relations. As a permanent member of the Security Council, China is ready to earnestly fulfill its responsibilities, engage in equal-footed, patient and full consultation with other parties on the political solution to the Syrian crisis in an effort to safeguard the unity of the Security Council.</li>

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