China on civil war in Syria: Don’t worry guys, we got this.

The New York Times is calling it “vague,” but the Chinese have, apparently, come up with a solution for ending the civil war in Syria.

In a new article, the NYT outlines how the Chinese plan to go about bringing peace to the war-torn country, which has been embroiled in conflict since 2011, at a cost of 30,000 lives. A cease-fire is the most crucial aspect of the plan, followed by a political transition to end the conflict. Um. Duh.

But apparently, it is the thought that counts:

“The plan lacked crucial specific details, however, like what role President Bashar al-Assad of Syria would play in any transition. China has been one of his main international backers since the uprising started in March 2011.

But the fact that China’s announcement came one day after the United States made it clear that the Syrian opposition needed new leadership underscored a subtle shift in international attitudes toward resolving the conflict…

The most recent attempt at a cease-fire during the four days of the Id al-Fitr holiday last weekend, which was negotiated by the international envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, failed, and each side still believes it can fight its way to victory.

But there have been subtle hints that alternate possibilities are not being rejected out of hand.

In Syria, for example, a columnist in the state-controlled newspaper Al Thawra suggested on Wednesday that room exists for further efforts, while reiterating the government position that outside plots led to the cease-fire’s failure. It praised the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, for saying at a recent news conference that he would speak to all political parties involved.”

For more details on the actual plan, we turn to Turtle Bay, which provided thoughtful analysis on what exactly the Chinese have in mind:

“The Chinese plan is, in a nutshell, a few bits and pieces borrowed from pre-existing Arab League and U.N. peace initiatives — i.e, a phased region-by-region ceasefire, a political transition, and stepped up humanitarian relief. There’s not a lot new here. And the irony is that these initiatives have, in the past, failed to gain momentum, in part, because China joined Russia in vetoing three resolutions promoting similar plans…

Through most of the Syrian conflict, China has largely sought to avoid drawing much attention to itself, offering few ideas to resolve the crisis in closed-door Security Council consultations, while sticking to stock government talking points in public statements about the need to resolve the crisis peacefully while respecting Syria’s sovereignty.

It’s worth noting that while China is a major power, it’s a bit player on Syria, taking its cue from Russia, which has been reluctant to ratchet up pressure on Bashar al-Assad to yield power to Syria’s opposition forces. But Beijing has occasionally raised its profile — it previously sent a high-level delegation to Middle East capitols to explain and defend its decision to veto Arab-backed U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria – to avoid a political backlash against Chinese interests in the region.”

As the Chinese leadership turnover approaches, this will likely fall by the wayside. Hopefully Jinping has a better plan up his sleeve.

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

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