BEIJING: China will offer $2 million in humanitarian assistance to Syria through the Red Cross, state media said on Wednesday, another gesture aimed at repairing relationships in the Middle East, though its stance on Syria shows no sign of changing.
Beijing wants to counter accusations from Western and Arab leaders that it, along with Russia, abetted expanding violence by President Bashar al-Assad's forces against civilians by vetoing two UN resolutions on the crisis.
Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Ming, who was sent by Beijing to Egypt this month as an envoy to discuss the crisis in Syria, made the offer of emergency humanitarian aid as a way of "expressing the sympathy and concern of the Chinese people".
China and Russia have blocked moves in the United Nations to censure Assad, a position which met with international outrage. They have also welcomed the Syrian leader's reform pledges, including a promised election.
Zhang urged members of the United Nations Security Council to adopt resolutions that are "generally accepted by all", reiterating China's stance that the "authorized use of force, or forced regime change ... are undesirable".
"Zhang said the Chinese side believes that only the Syrian people have the right to decide their own fate," according to Xinhua. "External forces have no right to make a choice (for them)."
"China is not shielding any person, any party or any regime."
Zhang's visit, which will also take him to Saudi Arabia and France, comes as UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan kept up efforts to broker a halt to hostilities. Syrian government forces killed dozens of people in the northern city of Idlib, dumping their bodies in a mosque, opposition activists said.
Another Chinese envoy, former ambassador to Syria Li Huaxin, last week told Assad's government and other parties to stop the violence and help the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross supply aid.
China and other powers met behind closed doors at the United Nations Security Council last week to discuss a new draft resolution seeking an end to the bloodshed in Syria, and allow unhindered humanitarian access to needy areas there.
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