China urges caution on Syrian military action before UN inspectors’ report
Foreign minister Wang Yi urges restraint before completion of chemical weapons inquiry
China’s foreign minister Wang Yi: “A political resolution is still the only way out.” Photograph: Reuters/Adrian Bradshaw
China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said yesterday that the United Nations Security Council should not be pushed into any military action on Syria before inspectors have completed an investigation into allegations of chemical weapons use.
“A political resolution is still the only way out,” Mr Wang told UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon in a telephone call, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Beijing and Moscow have vetoed previous Western efforts to impose UN penalties on Mr Assad’s government.
US officials acknowledged that they lacked conclusive evidence that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had personally ordered last week’s poison gas attack, and some allies have warned that military action without UN Security Council authorisation risks making the situation worse.
China fully supported an independent and objective inspection free from outside pressure, he said. “Before the investigation finds out what really happened, all parties should avoid prejudging the results, and certainly ought not to forcefully push for the Security Council to take action,” Mr Wang told Mr Ban.
Use of force
Military force would not help resolve the Syrian issue and would only worsen turmoil in the Middle East, Mr Wang said, and outside military intervention ran counter to the principles of the UN Charter.
China is opposed to the use of chemical weapons and it supports the UN inspectors conducting a professional investigation into their alleged use, he said.
Mr Wang also spoke to French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and said that finding out the facts was a condition for taking action.
“It must not only be ascertained if chemical weapons were used, but even more important is determining who used them,” Mr Wang said in remarks that were carried on the foreign ministry’s website.
During the conversation with Mr Fabius, Mr Wang stressed the need “to support UN inspectors in facilitating their independent, just, objective and professional investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria,” Xinhua reported.
“Since the Syrian crisis broke out in 2011, China has always held the principle of respecting the sovereignty of Syria and consistently opposed interference and sanctions,” Xinhua said.
In an editorial, the China Daily warned against military action.
“While Obama may still go it alone in order to salvage the credibility of his words, not really to protect the Syrian civilians, there is no doubt that such military actions will result in more ruins and chaos not just in Syria, but also the region, already mired in endless conflicts. We have seen that in both the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, ” it said.