China rejects Syrian sanctions

Just a day after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius suggested using sanctions to enforce a crumbling cease-fire plan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said his country objected to using pressure, arguing the international community should instead support the efforts of international envoy Kofi Annan.

Speaking in an interview with a French radio station, Fabius said leaders from America, France and Russia are in discussions to prepare for a world without Syria’s leader President Bashar al-Assad:

“Fabius said France will not supply arms to the rebels because it would escalate the fighting. But, he added, Paris might supply communications material to the rebels, which would be a first.”

Amnesty International estimates 10,000 people have been killed in the country since a civil uprising began last year. But Voice of America reported that China is not alone in dragging its feet on the Syria issue:

“Russia has also been opposed to Western and Arab efforts to impose U.N. sanctions on Syria’s government.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defended his country’s arms sales to Syria, Wednesday, saying they do not violate international law.

Syria’s ambassador to Russia also rejected criticism of the sales during a visit Thursday to Moscow.  Riyad Haddad said the arms are defensive weapons, and further blamed Western countries for any failures of the Annan plan.
World Politics Review reports that, while Russia may have something to gain from delaying sanctions and military intervention, China could shift its stance:

China has taken an atypically strong stand in opposing efforts to force the Syrian government to end its brutal repression of anti-regime protesters. But China, unlike Russia, with which it has joined to block measures seeking to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from office, is motivated primarily by principles rather than concrete strategic and economic interests in Syria. And China, unlike Russia, seems more open to changing its position.

For the past two decades, Chinese leaders have typically opposed foreign military interventions seeking regime change. The Chinese government has traditionally sought to keep United Nations resolutions precisely worded to tightly constrain how member governments apply them. Furthermore, China strongly supports traditional interpretations of national sovereignty that severely restrict the right of foreign powers or international organizations to intervene in a country’s internal affairs.

What do you think? Should the world mind its own business, or is it time to get rid of Assad?

Read more on China, France, America and the world beyond in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!

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