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New Chinese Ambassador to Qatar, Gao Youzhen, at a press briefing yesterday. Qassim Rahmatullah
By Azmat Haroon
Doha: China believes that its stance on Syria will not affect its relations with the Arab and Islamic world.
China’s new ambassador to Qatar, Gao Youzhen, emphatically said yesterday that China will maintain its ‘traditional friendly relations’ with the Arab world. He was addressing a press briefing on China’s proposals to promote political settlement of the Syrian crisis.
“In the face of new developments, China is still committed to developing friendly relations with the Arab countries,” the ambassador said.
China, along with Russia, has so far vetoed resolutions against Syria three times in the United Nations Security Council since the uprising against President Bashar Al Assad began.
The UN resolution, backed by the Arab League, urged Al Assad to hand over power to a deputy president and set up a new unity government.
“China has not used much of its right of veto. For one country, they (some of the major countries) have used (the veto right) more than 100 times,” the Chinese envoy said.
He did not name any country though the reference might have been to Israel.
China continues to support Palestine, which is the ‘most critical matter in the Arab world.’
“China has always rendered staunch support to Palestine and the Arab people,” he said.
On Wednesday, China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League joint peace envoy on Syria, and proposed a four-point region-by-region ceasefire (within Syria) as well as a gradual political transition.
Asked if a political settlement meant that Al Assad should continue to stay in power, the ambassador was evasive and critically said that “China does not support interference in the internal affairs of countries.”
“Political settlement means a settlement (reached) without violence. An important part of China’s diplomacy is that we do not interfere in the affairs of other countries.”
The plan, meanwhile, comes after the collapse of the latest ceasefire proposal after Eid Al Adha.
The failure has been, in part, due to the ‘obstacles caused by the international community.’
“Different countries have different political systems. Who should decide the fate of the country? I think the answer is, the people of the country,” Youzhen said.
The ambassador, who has served in the Middle East for 30 years, said that since the 1980s, China has been assisting many countries in the Arab world, especially the least developed ones.
In Yemen, where the envoy has previously served, China has helped build the first highway and a flyway, along with a technical school and the country’s first industry. “We have updated our cooperative mechanisms with the Arab countries. For instance, we have established a China-Arab countries Forum,” the envoy said.