Ban Seeks Tougher Action in China Visit

CDT previously reported on the division of global opinion over the conflict in Syria, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has now arrived early in China to seek tougher action in Syria. The Voice of America reports:

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is heading to China amid a looming showdown at the U.N. Security Council over two competing resolutions on Syria.

Ban's trip will include talks with President Hu Jintao, and his arrival comes as the official People's Daily newspaper ran a commentary rejecting foreign intervention in the Syrian crisis.

Monday, Syria moved armored vehicles into the capital, Damascus, as opposition fighters battled Syrian government forces in what residents described as the fiercest fighting yet inside the capital. Activists said fighting had spread to several neighborhoods and in the center of the city.

According to the Associated Press, Ban's trip comes ahead of a U.N. Security Council vote to authorize actions or sanctions against Syria:

U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon called for rapid, unified action by the Security Council on Syria as he arrived in Beijing on Tuesday as part of a diplomatic push to get Russia and China to back a tougher response to attacks by President Bashar Assad's regime.

Ban is to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday. There has been heightened urgency to global diplomatic efforts on Syria since it was reported last week that dozens were killed in a regime assault on the Syrian village of Tremseh. U.N. observers said the attack appeared to target army defectors and activists.

China has maintained that a diplomatic solution is the only way to end the crisis and resisted calls to pressure Assad to step down. The official People's Daily newspaper ran a commentary Tuesday strongly opposing force against Syria and calling for a political solution, a sign that China may again block the Western-backed resolution in the Security Council, where it is a veto-wielding member.

“I think Ban's message on the Syria problem will be very clear and quite urgent,” said Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at People's University in Beijing. “He hopes this time that China will give support to calls for Assad to step down. Or at least not to oppose them.”

Aside from a meeting with Hu Jintao, Ban also chatted with microbloggers that follow the United Nations Sina Weibo account, China Daily USA adds:

Upon arriving at the hotel from the airport, the Secretary-General will start to interact with the followers of UN Weibo at 7:30 pm, 17 July local time. Mr. Ban will listen to the comments, suggestions and expectations of the followers on the work of the United Nations, and will answer relevant questions.

Started yesterday, Weibo users have submitted more than 2000 questions about the United Nations, the role of the Secretary-General or various global issues on the UN agenda such asSyria crisis, youth unemployment and human rights. People are encouraged to keep sending questions at the Weibo platform until the end of the conversation.

The 45-minute conversation will be conducted in English and simultaneously interpreted into Chinese. It will be hosted by Ms Yang Lan, one of China's most famous talk show hosts and is going to webcast live on Weibo which has over 350 million registered users. The event will be also recorded as one episode of Yang's signature show “Yang Lan One On One” and broadcasted across satellite and terrestrial television networks, covering over 879 million viewers throughout the greater China region.

As China hardened its position on the UN's resolutions for the conflict, Chinese state media has decried any intervention in Syria, from Reuters:

While China has yet to explicitly say how it will vote on Wednesday on the new resolution, comments in the Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily suggest it will not be won over, with Beijing nervous about any suggestions of intervention.

“Foreign interference to bring about regime change to forcefully prevent a humanitarian disaster sounds like a fully just and responsible thing to do,” the newspaper said in a commentary.

“But is it not a humanitarian disaster that more than a decade after regime change that there are attacks and bombings which there are no way to stop?” it added, in an apparent allusion to Iraq.

“Several wars that have happened in this new century prove again and again that 'promoting democracy' and 'humanitarianism' are just a pretext for large foreign powers to seek private gain,” the People's Daily commentary said.


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