China’s Wen says Arab popular will should be heard
China's Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday that Arab countries should be left to determine their political futures for themselves, but that popular will should be heeded in that process.
January 18, 2012 1:53 by Reuters
The comments came as Wen toured Gulf Arab states whose regional rival Iran is the target of tighter economic sanctions Washington wants to see enacted over its nuclear programme.
They echoed an earlier, cautious acknowledgment of mass political upheaval that has swept the Middle East, and where the threat of further sanctions against Iran concerns China, the biggest customer for that country’s oil exports.
“We maintain that the affairs of the region should be decided by the countries and the people themselves and their wish and aspirations for change should be respected,” Wen said during a business conference with officials of the United Arab Emirates.
“We believe the difficulties Arab countries are facing will be temporary,” he said. “We support countries in the region in choosing independently a development path suited to their national conditions.”
Wen’s remarks also come in the context of rising international pressure on its ally Syria over Damascus’ bloody crackdown on peaceful protests that have also seen the emergence of an armed insurgency.
Energy giant Qatar has proposed sending Arab troops into Syria in response to the bloodshed, and an Arab League source has said Beijing and Moscow urged Syria to accept an extension of an Arab League monitoring mission to avert an escalation at the international level.
Opposition from Russia and China has so far stopped the U.N. Security Council from criticising Syria, an old ally of Moscow, though Russia has drafted a resolution that Western diplomats fault for blaming both sides for 10 months of violence.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China backed the Arab League’s monitors in Syria and the organisation’s efforts to defuse the conflict there, and he also indicated that China was open to discussing Syria in the Security Council.
“China appreciates Russia’s constructive efforts to overcome the crisis in Syria, and is willing to continue participating in consultations on the basis of Russia’s draft (resolution),” he told a daily briefing. (Reporting by Martina Fuchs and Humeyra Pamuk in Sharjah, and Chris Buckley in Beijing; Writing by Joseph Logan)