BEIJING – China showed no clear support for new U.N. Security Council measures aimed at ending Syria's civil war, while saying Thursday it condemned the bombing that killed top Syrian officials and wanted an immediate cease-fire.
Russia already has indicated it would veto the proposed text, and fellow permanent Security Council member China has vetoed two past actions with Russia.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been visiting Beijing to convey to President Hu Jintao an urgent need for international action
The Chinese foreign ministry statement issued Thursday evening said China opposes all forms of terrorism and violence and that it "strongly" condemned the bombing Wednesday in Damascus that killed Syria's defense minister and his deputy.
"China is deeply worried about the rising tensions in Syria," the statement said. "China once again called on all related parties in Syria to cease fire immediately."
The brief statement did not mention the Security Council vote but shows China has not changed its stance even as Syria's violence has escalated and Western nations have urged tougher action against President Bashar Assad's government.
The new Syria resolution threatens non-military sanctions against Assad's regime if he doesn't withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas within 10 days. The text is tied to Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which could eventually allow the use of force to end the conflict.
Russia, a close Syrian ally, has said it will veto any Chapter 7 resolution.
Unlike Russia, China does not have longstanding strategic ties to Assad's government, but Beijing opposes setting precedents that could potentially be applied to its troubled western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. China feels burned by Western intervention in Libya, believing that the U.S. and European powers over-interpreted a U.N. resolution to attack the government of Moammar Gadhafi, not just protect Libyan civilians.
The state-run Global Times newspaper's Chinese edition said in an editorial Thursday that Beijing should continue to align itself with Russia in voting in the U.N. Security Council.
The paper said that no matter how the situation unfolds in Syria, Beijing should maintain its position of opposing external military intervention.
"The West only wants a result that benefits their interest, and does not care if the process is peaceful," the newspaper said. "Yesterday's bloodshed in Damascus has made the West very excited. We just want to say one thing here: no matter how the Syrian situation develops later, let the process be less painful for the Syrian people."