News / Asia

China Tries to Remain on Syria Crisis Sidelines

A father comforts his son who has just undergone surgery for a bullet wound in his left shoulder in Maraat al Numan, Syria, November 18, 2012.
A father comforts his son who has just undergone surgery for a bullet wound in his left shoulder in Maraat al Numan, Syria, November 18, 2012.
Shannon Sant
China and Russia have been heavily criticized for their refusal to support United Nations sanctions against the Syrian government. Now that some Western countries have begun officially supporting the Syrian opposition, pressure is building on Chinese officials to get involved.
 
Fighting continued to rage in Syria this week as Britain joined France in recognizing a newly formed opposition bloc of Syrian rebels.  Other countries including the United States have not recognized the group, but have repeatedly called for sanctions against Syrian President Bashir al-Assad's government.

Despite mounting pressure for China to help push for Assad's overthrow, Beijing's position remains unchanged.
 
When asked about Britain’s support for the Syrian opposition, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Ying Chun said Beijing believes that political resolution is the only right way out for the Syrian issue.  She said any action by the international community should be conducive to ending all violence, promoting the political resolution process of the Syrian issue, and upholding peace and stability in the Middle East region.
 
China has twice vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for sanctions on the Assad government.  Some analysts say pressure on China to take a firm position on international crises like the situation in Syria will only grow as Beijing's global economic power and influence increases. 
 
“Holding a diplomatic position it had when it was a pretty small, developing economy, several decades ago, this seems rather strange," says Kerry Brown, Executive Director of the China Studies Center at the University of Sydney. "So I think it’s going to be forced to take positions on issues in the past it wanted to keep well away from.”
 
Familiar quandary

China faced a similar quandary in Libya on whether to support rebels there or the Chinese government’s longtime ally, Muammar Gadhafi.  Russia and China abstained from voting on a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a NATO air campaign over Libya.  That resolution led to NATO intervention in the country and the toppling of Qaddafi’s regime.
 
China had large economic interests in Libya, with, according to Chinese media, $18 billion invested in construction projects.  Libya was also home to 35,000 Chinese migrant workers, whom China had to evacuate when war broke out.
 
China’s interests in Syria, however, are very different. 
 
“I think the thing ultimately is that in Syria Beijing is facing a lose lose situation," says Sarah Raine, a fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, "because on the one hand Beijing has no love for Assad, no major assets, resource-wise in the country, and not even a particularly sizable Chinese presence to worry about.”
 
Earlier this month China did put forward a four-point peace proposal for Syria, calling for a cease-fire and committee that will negotiate a political resolution to the conflict.  

Although some analysts say the plan is a step towards China becoming a responsible international stakeholder, others say the proposal does nothing to resolve the crisis.

Beijing may prefer to remain largely on the sidelines of the conflict for now, but Kerry Brown says its growing economic power means that China may have to take a larger diplomatic role.
 
“Can we see a world in which China will start to be involved in issues of governance and issues of delivery of humanitarian relief, and interventions in other areas that don’t directly effect it?" ponders Brown.  "Will we, the western powers in particular, the U.S., Europe and Australia, will we be happy to see that?  On the one hand they may be willing, but on the other hand will we say this is China becoming too prominent?” 
 
With the bloodshed in Syria continuing, international pressure is expected to increase on China to support Syria’s rebels.   Members of the Friends of Syria group, which supports the Syrian opposition, meet in Tokyo on November 30.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
November 25, 2012 1:28 PM
Once the war is over. I hope the people of Syria cut all business ties with China for their lack of ending this Assad civillian killer.

In Response

by: zhang nan from: wuhan
November 26, 2012 12:10 AM
i hope Syrian people win the war against Bashar al-Assad dictatorship regime which is brutal and evil.dictator and dictatorship system all over the world should be killed !
Allah bless Syrian people!


by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 24, 2012 12:53 PM
funny, since when Gadhafi became long time ally of China? Its Gadhafi who has close relation with Taiwan and was warned many times by China. Also it was Gadhafi called China neo-imperialism in Africa.
Yes China has business in Libya but only business, clearly nothing more, like China has business everywhere around the world, does that mean China has allies all around the world?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid