China supported the American-backed U.N. resolution on Iraq after deciding it was "conducive to the political solution" of the issue and gave the Security Council power over enforcement, the government's Xinhua News Agency said Saturday.
Quoting Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan, Xinhua said China voted for the resolution Friday in hopes it would push the Iraq problem toward a peaceful solution.
"We would like to stress that the Security Council shoulder the responsibility of safeguarding international peace and security as endorsed by the U.N. charters," Kong was quoted as saying.
China has always stressed that any action, military or otherwise, should be done through the Security Council, where it is a permanent member and holds veto power.
"The purpose of the resolution is to achieve the disarmament of Iraq through effective inspections," Zhang Yishan, the acting Chinese representative to the United Nations, was quoted as saying. "The text no longer includes automaticity for authorizing the use of force."
Kong and other Foreign Ministry officials have said repeatedly that while Saddam must allow weapons inspectors full access, the international community must also respect Iraq's sovereignty — always a hot-button issue for China, which views territorial integrity as its most pressing foreign policy issue.
"China always believes that to pursue a comprehensive solution to the Iraq issue, the sovereignty, territorial integrity and reasonable concerns of Iraq should be respected," Xinhua said.
It said the United Nations should consider suspending and eventually lifting the 12-year-old sanctions against Iraq if Saddam complies with the inspections.
Later Friday, China issued a joint statement with Russia and France about the resolution, saying it effectively made sure the use of force on Iraq was not automatic.
"It is our hope that Iraq will seriously implement the resolution, fully cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors and fully comply with its disarmament obligation so as to create conditions for an early and comprehensive resolution of the question of Iraq, " Zhang said.