Last updated: 26 March, 2012

China says it supports Annan’s Syria mediation efforts

China said Monday it supports Kofi Annan’s efforts to help solve the Syrian crisis, on the eve of a visit by the special envoy aimed at seeking backing for a plan to end fighting there.

Annan, the United Nations-Arab League envoy on Syria, is due in Beijing on Tuesday to brief Chinese leaders about his proposal after visiting Russia where President Dmitry Medvedev offered him Moscow’s full support.

His plan calls for a UN-supervised halt to fighting in Syria, with President Bashar al-Assad’s government pulling its troops out of protest cities, and aims to push for a Syrian-led transition to a democratic system.

“China values and supports the mediation efforts of Mr. Annan and hopes this visit will allow in-depth discussions on a political resolution of the Syrian issue,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

Speaking at a regular news briefing, he added China hopes for a “fair, peaceful and proper solution”, giving no further details.

China — along with Russia — drew international criticism earlier this year for blocking a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s protracted and deadly crackdown on protests.

Beijing has repeatedly called for an end to violence in Syria, and earlier this month it backed a UN statement urging Assad to work toward ceasing hostilities.

Analysts say that while China agrees to dialogue to help resolve the crisis, it opposes any move that may imply foreign military intervention or an attempt at regime change.

As such, they say Beijing may look carefully at Annan’s plans for a Syrian-led democratic transition before giving a resounding go-ahead, but add that Russia’s vocal support may ease the task for the international envoy.

Speaking after meetings with Annan on Sunday, Medvedev warned Syria that the proposal represented the last chance for avoiding a civil war.