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China opposes military intervention in Syria

August 29, 2013

Syria is at the flashpoint of a potential military crisis, after reports surfaced alleging that the nation's government had used chemical weapons to attack more than 1,000 of its own citizens. While major Western powers such as the United States and United Kingdom are now considering the possibility of military intervention in the situation, others are opposing such plans. China has included itself among the most vocal critics of any plans for martial action against the Middle Eastern nation, according to the Los Angeles Times. This developing situation may well be the centerpiece of conversations between individuals concerned about the issue, conducted using international calling cards.

Foreign Ministry's rebuke
China's most direct rebuttal of intervention plans stems from Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. In a statement made on the Foreign Ministry's website, Wang wrote, "External military intervention contravenes the purposes and principles of the U.N. charter and the basic norms of international relations, and will add to turmoil in the Middle East. China calls on all parties concerned to exercise restraints and calmness, adhering to the right track of political solution."

The LA Times reported that most Chinese state-run media outlets are contributing to the clamor against outside military action. Most of these arguments are centered around the possibility of the Syrian situation turning into one akin to the Iraq conflict, where what was assumed to be a brief engagement to depose Saddam Hussein turned into an occupation lasting almost a decade. 

Additionally, some in China are questioning the veracity of claims regarding the Syrian government's responsibility for the chemical attacks. Li Wei, director of Beijing's Institute of Security and Arms Control Studies, simply said, "Who used the chemical weapons in Syria isn't clear."

Economic reasons have not been cited as reasons for China's reluctance, although the nation is Syria's most sizable trade partner.

Possibility of a UN veto
Wang made no direct claims in his statement regarding what China would do if talks of Syrian intervention went further. However, as the South China Morning Post reports, the country is a member of the U.N. Security Council and has the authority to cast a veto against a legal resolution authorizing air strikes or other actions against Syria. 

U.S. representatives have stated that any veto - which is likely to come from China as well as Russia - would not derail plans for a strike if it was deemed absolutely necessary. Yet President Barack Obama stated that while administration officials have met with colleague from France and the U.K. about attack possibilities, he has not committed to any action as yet. 

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