On August 2, Annan said he would not renew his mandate after it expires on August 31. While paying homage to this U.N.-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, the international community expressed regret over his decision. The following day, the 66th UN Assembly passed a resolution on Syria. Both coming at a time when the Syrian situation kept worsening, these two events sent people worrying about an escalation of the 17-month Syrian crisis into a civil war.
As the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Annan has rich diplomatic experiences and outstanding talents and commands public respect and support as the U.N.-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria. His efforts have once produced quite some positive results, and led people to see some hope for termination of violence in Syria and ultimate solution of its crisis. Although the Houla bloodshed reversed Annan’s efforts, the Geneva conference of the so-called Action Group on Syria turned them toward a favorable direction. Nevertheless, some people inside and outside Syria that have been aspiring for a change of power in this Western Asian country by force hate to see the success of Annan’s efforts. With the growth of the rebel forces, these people have come to count Annan’s efforts to implement the six-point peace plan and the UN-Syria Supervision Mission as a block to their attempt, and announced soon after the Geneva conference that ‘the earlier the failure of Annan’s plan, the better.’ Backed by external powers, the rebel forces in Syria have kept growing, rising now to a position to openly confront government troops. Two factors have led to the development of the Syrian situation to its present-day state: the ultimate outbreak of all the contradictions brewing in Syria for long years, and the fueling by external forces. Obviously, there have been two confronting stands on the Syrian issue: defusion of the crisis through political consultation and change of power by force. As the UN envoy, Annan has been mandated to achieve the former, of course. For those determined to seek a change of power by force, Annan’s mediation may provide them with some time when they need it. Once the winds come to blow in their favor, they would regard Annan’s efforts as a roadblock to their move. After so many painstaking efforts, Annan has decided to quit his job, a decision imposed on him by the forces insisting on solution of the Syrian issue by force and those standing behind these forces.
China stands for political solution of the Syrian issue, a position it has always held since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis. It has also rendered sincere and enthusiastic support to Annan’s efforts and done a lot of work toward the same goal. It has put forward, for instance, a six-point proposal for the political solution of the Syrian issue. At the Geneva conference of foreign ministers sponsored by the Action Group on the Syrian Issue, Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi also offered a 4-point solution, which proved a pragmatic contribution to the success of the conference. Meanwhile, China has spared no efforts to mediate between the Syrian government and the rebel forces. Apart from sending its special envoy on several missions to visit Syria, it has received the visits to China by the Syrian foreign minister and the leader of the rebel forces. It has also kept frequent contacts with the opposition factions both inside and outside Syria, urging them to stop violence and start inclusive political dialogue; maintained close communication with all circles of the international society; and worked on the Arab countries and the Arab League, in particular. Vowed to maintain the unity of the international society, China has taken a constructive part in the UN Security Council and other multilateral discussions of the Syrian issue, given its support to Annan’s efforts, and sent its supervision mission to Syria. All these endeavors by China have been made out of its full realization of its responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and its determination to safeguard the purpose and principles of the UN Charter and other international norms. China does not have or go for any interest of its own in Syria. All it drives at is to safeguard the fundamental interest of the Syrian people, and the peace and stability in the Middle East. Its stand and viewpoints on the Syrian issue will stand the test of history.
The Syrian issue has now evolved into its crucial stage, a development that calls for the international community to come to the common view that the general position of political solution of the Syrian issue should be firmly kept and political means should be employed for its impartial, peaceful and appropriate solution, and that any attempt to solve it by military means will only lead to even bigger conflicts, more bloodshedding, or even a disaster for the whole region. It is our hope that the efforts initiated by Annan for the political solution of the Syrian issue will be continued and rounded up with due fruits so as to benefit the Syrian people and the people in the Middle East as a whole.
Wu Sike is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.