The Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper warned on Monday against Western military intervention in Syria, in a strongly worded reminder that China, like Russia, is wary of forceful international action even as the civil conflict in Syria grows much bloodier.
“The Syrian question should be resolved by the Syrian people,” said a commentary in People’s Daily. “Outside powers do not have the right to stick their hands in.”
The position taken by People’s Daily echoed remarks by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who said Friday that while he saw worrying signs of an emerging civil war in Syria, he was also opposed to Western intervention. “You cannot do anything by force,” Mr. Putin said.
China and Russia, both members of the United Nations Security Council, have long opposed Western military intervention. The recent comments came as Arab and Western governments appeared to be considering a more muscular response to the carnage in Syria after a massacre in the village of Houla on May 25 left 108 people dead, 49 of them children. Arab and Western governments have blamed government-backed militiamen for the attack, but the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, denied in a speech on Sunday that his government was responsible.
The commentary in People’s Daily, one of the longest and clearest expositions of China’s stance in recent weeks, called for more patience in the hope that the peace plan proposed by Kofi Annan, the envoy to Syria for the United Nations and the Arab League, would have success.
“International society, instead of losing confidence and patience, should support Annan’s peace plan and not propagate ‘Annan’s plan is dead’ around the world out of ulterior motives,” the official commentary said.
The Syrian government’s opponents accuse it of continuing extensive military action against unarmed or lightly armed domestic opponents despite the peace plan.
The similar stances of China and Russia toward Syria and its government underline a persistent and broader challenge for the West. Senior officials in Beijing and Moscow share a deep distaste for any hint of civil disorder in their own countries, and have been reluctant to countenance international action even against governments elsewhere that use military force against their own people to restore order.
The People’s Daily column appeared on the 23rd anniversary of the military assault on unarmed protesters in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Hundreds died there, according to former officials who were in office at the time. But the newspaper column did not allude to the anniversary; the subject is still strictly banned in mainland media.
Aa candlelight vigil has been scheduled for Monday evening in Hong Kong, while the police are on alert in mainland China against any attempt to commemorate the anniversary.
Source: The New York Times