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China: US and allies push Syria into civil war

Published time: February 20, 2012 07:52
Edited time: February 21, 2012 04:25

Demonstrators shout during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Kafranbel near Idlib February 19, 2012 (Reuters / Handout)

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US and its allies are pushing Syria into civil war by backing the armed opposition, the newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party writes. The article insists Beijing must stick to opposing any attempt to intervene or regime change in Damascus.

­"If Western countries continue to fully support Syria's opposition, then in the end a large-scale civil war will erupt and there will be no way to thus avoid the possibility of foreign armed intervention," a foreign affairs expert Qu Xing wrote in the piece as cited by Reuters

His article in the People's Daily suggests if the UN Security Council had passed the resolution backing the Arab League’s call for Assad to step down, that would only have lead to more violence.

"Assad would have had his back up against the wall with all means of retreat cut off, and the opposition would have been encouraged to press steadily forward. Clashes would have been even worse than they are now," writes Qu Xing.  

The article follows a visit by one of Beijing's top diplomats to Damascus, in attempts to mediate peace talks in Syria. Vice-Foreign Minister Zhai Jun met Assad in Damascus on Saturday and backed his plans for a referendum and multi-party elections. He expressed hope that the two sides will be able to stop the bloodshed in the country and approach peaceful dialogue.

"The position of China is to call on the government, the opposition and the rebels to halt acts of violence immediately," Zhai Jun said following his two-day visit to Syria.

Beijing would prefer to avoid having a Libyan scenario repeated in Syria, says international politics professor Zhang Yongjin of the University of Bristol.

Regarding foreign military intervention, Yongjin says, “Beijing is simply warning of this … rhetoric eventually becoming part of the policy by the West.” He adds, “There’s a very interesting parallel between the Syrian situation and the Libyan situation.”

Yongjin recalls that similar rhetoric by British officials preceded the NATO adventure in Libya. Back then London began arming the Libyan opposition, and eventually this became part of official British and French policy – which ended in a military intervention.

“There is some kind of encouragement of the [Syrian] opposition not to accept any kind of political solution and keep fighting, and this call for Assad to step down. Beijing is very concerned, obviously, about how the possibility of a peaceful resolution of the Syrian situation is undermined by such rhetoric,” he concluded.

Russia and China blocked a draft UN Security Council resolution on Syria on February 4; other UNSC members criticized the two for allegedly pursuing their own interests. Moscow and Beijing insist the draft was one-sided and could have sent an unbalanced signal to all sides in the conflict.

Meanwhile, amid reports of ongoing violence in the country, RT's Maria Finoshina has been to a Syrian city caught up in the conflict. Watch her report from Syria below.