China on Thursday joined Russia in cautioning the U.S. against carrying out “unilateral military action” in Syria.
Lending its support to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to push Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control, Beijing reiterated its position that the international community “should on the one hand uphold international norms that prohibit use of chemical weapons, and on the other hand press ahead with the political settlement of the Syrian issue”.
“We always emphasise we are opposed to whoever uses chemical weapons, and we always oppose the use of force in international relations,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told reporters. China was of the view that any move “to bypass the United Nations Security Council and take unilateral military action” would go “against international law and the basic norms governing international relations”.
Unilateral action, Mr. Hong said, “will add to unrest” in Syria and in the region.
The Foreign Ministry echoed the view expressed by Mr. Putin in his Thursday article in the New York Times saying that the international community was facing “an important opportunity” to resolve the chemical weapons issue following the Russian proposal. Without directly referring to the U.S., Mr. Hong said China hoped “all relevant parties” would “seize this opportunity” to resolve the issue “through diplomatic and political means”.
However, the official Xinhua news agency did also express concern of that “handling its chemical arms will pose serious technical, logistic and security challenges to the war-torn country”. “The on-going battle between the government and opposition forces will further complicate the process,” the commentary said, “even raising the concern of these weapons falling into the wrong hands”. In July, Chinese officials expressed fears that around 100 youth linked to terror groups in the western Xinjiang region had travelled to Syria for training with rebel outfits, and had subsequently been involved in carrying out violent attacks.