Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Wednesday elaborated China's new four-point proposal on a political resolution to the Syrian conflict, urging all parties in Syria to cease fire and begin political transition at an early date.
Yang made the proposal during his talks with UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who is visiting China for the first time since replacing former UN chief Kofi Annan as the international mediator on Syria on Sept. 1.
To facilitate the political settlement of the Syrian issue, China proposes the following:
Firstly, parties in Syria should make every effort to stop fighting and violence, and cooperate actively with the mediation efforts of Brahimi. They should implement effective steps toward a cease-fire, for example region by region or phase by phase, expand the areas of cease-fire, realize disengagement, and eventually bring an end to all armed conflict and violence.
Secondly, Syria should appoint empowered interlocutors as soon as possible so that, assisted by Brahimi and the international community, they can formulate through consultations a roadmap of political transition, establish a transitional governing body of broad representation, and implement political transition so as to end the Syrian crisis at an early date. To ensure a safe, stable and calm transition, the continuity and effectiveness of Syria's governmental institutions must be maintained.
Thirdly, the international community should work with greater urgency and responsibility to fully cooperate with and support Brahimi's mediation efforts and make real progress in implementing the communique of the Geneva foreign ministers' meeting of the Action Group for Syria, Mr. Annan's six-point plan and Security Council resolutions. The positive efforts of the Arab League and countries in the region in search of a political settlement should be valued.
Fourthly, all parties involved should take concrete steps to ease the humanitarian crisis in Syria. The international community should increase humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people and ensure proper resettlement of refugees beyond the Syrian border and timely aid for those in need within Syria. The Syrian government and related groups should render full cooperation to the work of the United Nations and neutral institutions to provide humanitarian assistance in all conflict-affected regions and ensure the safety of their personnel. At the same time, humanitarian issues should not be politicized and humanitarian assistance should not be militarized.
The new proposal aims at building consensus of the international community and supporting the mediation efforts of Brahimi so as to protect and promote the momentum and process of the political settlement of the issue, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Wednesday night.
He said China's position on the Syrian issue has been consistent: "The new proposal is the continuance of China's previous mediation efforts on the issue."
Calling the suggestions of implementing cease-fire region-by-region or phase-by-phase and establishing a transitional governing body of broad representation "the new elements" raised by China with the consideration of the most recent situation in Syria, the spokesman said China hopes these can help to realize a cease-fire and initiate a Syrian-led political transition.
An Huihou, a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said the new proposal is more detailed and practical compared to the six-point proposal China raised in March.
"At a time when the Syria situation has entered an impasse, China's new proposal not only shows its concern on the issue, but also gives strong support to Brahimi," said the former ambassador to several Middle East countries.
China has always played a positive role in the political settlement of the Syrian issue, said Hua Liming, former Chinese Ambassador to Iran. "The new proposal once again embodies China's fair and balanced stance."
ONLY VIABLE SOLUTION
The situation in Syria is at a crucial stage, and is important to the fundamental interests of the Syrian people as well as peace and stability in the Middle East, said Yang during his meeting with Brahimi.
"A political settlement is the only viable solution in Syria," the foreign minister said.
The future of the West Asian country should be determined by the Syrian people themselves, and its sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity should be respected and preserved, according to Yang.
"It is difficult to foresee the future of Syria, but one thing is for sure, that is, there is no way out through wars and violence," said Hua, also a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies.
"No matter how severe the conflicts, the resolution to the issue is on the negotiation table, not the battlefield," he said.
In his view, the momentum of military interference from outside has been contained at present, while more and more countries have begun to steer Syria back on the road of political resolution.
Meanwhile, the spill-over effects of the current conflicts into Syria's neighboring countries also need the international community's attention, experts said.
According to statistics from the United Nations, there are more than 300,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey after the crisis broke out in March last year. This weighs heavily on local authorities and communities and risks having serious destabilizing effects.
The spill-over is not in line with the interests of Western countries and these might help adjust their position and bring them back to the path of political resolution, said visiting researcher An.
"For Brahimi, the current situation is a possible opportunity to promote the political settlement of the Syrian issue," he said, adding that he would still be faced with obstacles from Western countries as well as opposition forces in Syria.