Chinese Permanent Representative to the United Nations Li Baodong (C) votes against the draft resolution on Syria during a UN Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York Oct. 4, 2011. The draft resolution, presented by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, won nine votes in favor, two against and four abstentions on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)
by Gu Zhenqiu
UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Russia and China on Tuesday vetoed a UN draft resolution on Syria, in their efforts to uphold the principle of non-interference and maintain peace and stability in the Middle East.
Speaking at an open Security Council meeting after the vote, China and Russia said the proposed measures in the draft resolution were neither conducive to the peaceful settlement of the Syrian question nor helpful to efforts to bring peace and security to the country.
The draft resolution, tabled by France, Britain, Germany and Portugal, was seen as a tool to interfere in Syria's internal affairs, as it only advocated sanctions or threat of sanctions against Syria and made no reference to any measures encouraging a peaceful settlement through dialogues among all the parties concerned.
Non-interference is one of the fundamental principles enshrined in the UN Charter and also included in the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. Intervention in a sovereign country's internal affairs is detrimental to the peaceful settlement of its problems.
And it is universally accepted that any action by the Security Council, which shoulders the primary responsibility of maintaining peace and security in the world at large, should be conducive to the peaceful settlement of disputes, rather than further complicate the situation on the ground.
Just as Vitaly Churkin, Russia's permanent representative to the UN, put it at the Security Council: "Today's refused draft was based on... the philosophy of confrontation."
"This approach is against the principle of peaceful settlement of the crisis on the basis of a full Syrian national dialogue," Churkin said.
Meanwhile, the draft's proponents failed to pay due attention to the reasonable concerns of Russia and China that the proposed punitive measures would be counterproductive.
Many observers said that an intervention in Syria would likely plunge the Middle Eastern country into a civil war, which would then damage not only the well-being of the Syrian people but the peace and stability of the whole region.
"The present draft resolution just means to impose pressure on Syria and even threaten to use sanctions against it. This is not conducive to easing the tension in Syria," said Chinese permanent representative to the UN Li Baodong when explaining why China is against the draft.
In addition, Russia's reservation also comes from the fear that NATO would seek to replicate the Libya intervention in Syria.
"The international community is alarmed by statements that compliance with Security Council resolutions in Libya in the NATO interpretation is a model for future actions of NATO in implementing responsibility to protect," Churkin said.
At the current stage, many believe that the top priority is to facilitate an early start of an inclusive political dialogue in Syria. The Syrian government has proposed a political process to restore peace and stability in the country.
Both Churkin and Li voiced the hope that the parties in Syria would exercise restraint, avoid any form of violence and act quickly to ease tensions.
Syria has been wracked by six months of unrest, which the Syrian government blames on foreign conspiracy and armed thugs. A recent UN statement put the number of civilians killed over the past half year in Syria at 2,700, while Syria said foreign-backed armed gangs had killed 700 security officers.