China offered a proposal Sunday to end the violence in Syria, calling for an immediate cease-fire and talks by all parties but standing firm against any intervention by outside forces.
The proposal, released by China’s Foreign Ministry, comes as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to allow immediate access to humanitarian workers as Syria presses a military crackdown against anti-government groups.
Beijing’s plan is part of renewed efforts by Beijing to seize the diplomatic initiative in an increasingly vital part of the world for China after being roundly criticized by the U.S. and others for joining Russia in vetoing a U.N. resolution. That plan similarly called for an end to hostilities, but Beijing feared it would open the door to intervention against Assad’s authoritarian government, as it had in Libya.
The proposal reflects those concerns; saying “the situation in Syria remains grave,” the proposal calls for an immediate end to all violence, as well as humanitarian relief and negotiations among all parties mediated by the U.N. and the Arab League. At the same time, it rejects any outside interference, sanctions and attempts to replace the Syrian government.
“We oppose anyone interfering in Syria’s internal affairs under the pretext of ‘humanitarian’ issues,” said the proposal from an unnamed “leading official” and posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website. It later said, as reported to AP, “China does not approve of armed interference or pushing for ‘regime change’ in Syria and believes that use or threat of sanctions does not help to resolve the issue.”
Beijing is usually reluctant to authorize sanctions or intervention against another country, fearing the precedent may one day be used against China, with its authoritarian government.