China Defends Syria Veto as U.S. Recalls Ambassador

The Chinese government has defended their veto of the U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to step down in the wake of escalating violence in the country. Other governments and observers around the world have condemned the decision by China and Russia to halt the international effort to rein in Assad’s regime. From Reuters:

The Arab League chief said on Monday that Russia and China had lost diplomatic credit in the Arab world by vetoing a U.N. resolution on Syria and may have sent a message to Damascus that it had a free hand to crack down on protests.

But Nabil Elaraby said he would continue working with Moscow and Beijing and other U.N. Security Council members to end the violence that spiked on Monday with the bombardment of the Syrian city of Homs, which activists said killed 50 people.

Elaraby told Reuters the veto had been a “reality check” for Syria’s opposition groups, who have so far refused the League’s call to engage with President Bashar al-Assad’s government, showing them that it was not Arabs blocking tougher action on Damascus but rather world powers who were not united.

And from BBC:

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said China and Russia will be “held responsible” for violence in Syria after vetoing a UN resolution condemning government repression.

He said the countries were making a “great mistake” which would damage their standing in the Middle East.

The document was rejected hours after activists accused troops of killing at least 55 people in the city of Homs.

Human Rights Watch also issued a statement against the veto:

“After weeks of Russian diplomatic games-playing and in the middle of a bloodbath in Homs, vetoes by Moscow and Beijing are simply incendiary,” said Philippe Bolopion, UN director at Human Rights Watch. “Vetoes by Russia and China are not only a slap in the face of the Arab League, they are also a betrayal of the Syrian people.”

The death toll had more than doubled since Russia and China vetoed a previous Syria resolution on October 4, according to United Nations figures.

Chinese bloggers are also speaking out according to MSNBC:

“The Syrian people are being slaughtered. But China cast an opposing vote in the Security Council,” said ArshavinThe23, who is based in the central Chinese province of Hunan, on his weibo — Chinese microblogs similar to Twitter.

“I just want to say, dictator supported dictator,” added Qiao Baibai on the popular Sina microblog service.

The U.S. has pulled their ambassador out of Syria
since the U.N. vote. And Al Jazeera asks, “Has Syria been given a licence to kill?”:

Amid this widespread criticism and condemnation, China has defended their decision to veto. From Reuters:

China said its blocking, along with Russia, of the U.N. resolution which would have backed an Arab plan urging Assad to quit, did not amount to supporting the Syrian leader. Activists accused his forces of bombarding part of the city of Homs before the U.N. vote in the worst bloodshed of the 11-month uprising.

“On the issue of Syria, China is not playing favourites and nor is it deliberately opposing anyone, but rather is upholding an objective and fair stance and a responsible position,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters in Beijing.

Western powers that initiated the U.N. Security Council vote on their draft resolution were culpable for not going far enough in seeking compromise, said Liu.

Read more about China’s role in the U.N. Security Council via CDT.

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