BEIJING – China on Thursday called for a phased-in cease-fire and negotiations on a gradual political transition to end the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.
A four-point proposal issued by the Foreign Ministry stopped short of calling for the ouster of President Bashar Assad and omitted mention of any measures to compel compliance. Alongside Russia, China has steadfastly blocked any outside intervention that could force Assad from power, much to the consternation of the U.S. and other countries seeking a swift end to the 19-month-old conflict, which has killed more than 35,000 people.
The proposal called on the international community to support the work of the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, and other mediation efforts. Assistance should be provided to refugees, but humanitarian work should not be politicized or militarized, it said.
The ministry's proposal was an elaboration of remarks made Wednesday by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to Brahimi during a meeting in Beijing, and echoed China's position since the start of the conflict, ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference.
The proposal said a cease-fire should be implemented "by district and in stages," ending in a total cessation of violence. The parties involved should name negotiating bodies to take part in a transition process while maintaining the country's institutions, it said.
"The Syria situation is still grave. The political resolution is facing up many difficulties," Hong said.
"For China to bring up this proposal now is to bring the global community together, cooperate with Brahimi's mediation efforts and push on the political resolution process and realize the cease-fire as soon as possible," he said.