China meets with Syrian foreign minister
Apr 19, 2012
China’s foreign minister met with his Syrian counterpart on Wednesday in the latest show of Beijing’s support for Damascus despite its tentative engagement with Syria’s opposition. Yang Jiechi exchanged views with Walid Moallem on the latest Syrian developments “”in a broad and extensive way,”” the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Yang as saying. No details were given, although China, along with fellow U.N. Security Council member Russia, has shielded Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime from U.N. sanctions over its deadly crackdown on a popular uprising. Despite that, Beijing has supported the cease-fire plan laid out by special envoy Kofi Annan. The plan is aimed at ending the violence and beginning talks on Syria’s political future. The U.N. insists the fragile truce is holding, even though regime forces have been hammering the rebellious city of Homs with artillery for days. China has sent envoys to meet with various parties in the conflict and says it plans to host opposition figures soon. Despite the continuing violence, the plan put forward by Annan, the joint U.N.-Arab League emissary, is the only one a deadlocked international community could rally behind and is seen as the only practical way forward. China and Syria’s other allies back the initiative because, unlike an Arab League plan earlier this year, it does not require Assad to step down ahead of transition talks. China, sensitive to anti-government unrest in minority areas in Xinjiang and Tibet, is habitually opposed to such outside intervention.