From the Guardian:
British and US efforts to apply punitive pressure on Robert Mugabe were abruptly undermined last night when Russia and China vetoed a UN security council resolution seeking sanctions against Zimbabwe.
[…] South Africa, Mugabe’s leading regional patron, […] argued that its neighbour is not a threat to world peace. China has resisted measures it sees as meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.
[…] “The development of the situation in Zimbabwe until now has not exceeded the context of domestic affairs,” said China’s UN ambassador, Wang Guangya. “It will unavoidably interfere with the negotiation process.”
Wang Guangya said adopting the sanctions would have been “counterproductive” and would have undermined the South African-mediated talks between the rival Zimbabwean parties. “We support the efforts by the African Union and President Mbeki to bring all the parties together,” he added.
From the Associated Press:
Supporters of the resolution had expected Russia and China to abstain because of the depth of the crisis in Zimbabwe.
From the New York Times:
Once the Russians made it clear that they would exercise their veto, the Chinese, often leery of taking a lone stand on delicate human rights issues, followed suit.
“The key thing is that the Russians decided to vote against it,” said John Sawers, the British ambassador to the United Nations. “The assessment here is that China would not have vetoed it on its own because they have a range of conflicting interests at stake.”
Among other issues, China’s reluctance to criticize the human rights records of African governments it trades with has come under international criticism as the Olympics in Beijing draw near. Russia and China do not often exercise their veto together, the last time being in January 2007 when they blocked a Council effort to criticize human rights violations in Myanmar.
China and Russia have a history of being at odds with the other permanent members of the Security Council — the United States, Britain and France — over the Council’s role. The split over the interpretation of what constitutes a threat to international peace and security has been particularly resurgent in recent years and Friday’s vote was seen as a prime example.
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