Syria Crisis is
China's Moment to Show it Cannot Be Hemmed In
what it means for the Syrian people, is the uprising against dictator
Bashar al-Assad the chance for China to show it is a serious player on the global
stage? This editorial from China's state-run Global
Times asserts that by standing tall in its desire to prevent further
bloodshed in Syria, Beijing is sending a message that the West will not forget.
An apparently cheerful Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma vote, undoutedly to approve a referendum on a new constitution that will limit him to twop more seven year terms, at a polling station in a Syrian TV station, Damascus, Feb. 26.
On Sunday, Syrians voted on a
draft constitution that calls for multi-party rule and parliamentary elections,
and putting in place a presidential term limit of two seven-year terms. The
result of the vote will be announced today. The opposition, with the West's
support, has boycotted the vote.
The West is wrong to reject
any reforms Syria undertakes and to demand President Bashar al-Assad step down
to end the crisis. This will bring about a civil war and lead to more deaths.
What the West wants from Syria is not democracy, but the overthrow of the
regime so as to eliminate Iranian influence over Syria.
China should stand by Russia
and support the vote.
In a globalized world, it is difficult
for a regime to be invulnerable to outside influences.
Western political pressure on
Assad's regime appears invincible, but no one knows what will happen in the
long run. The "Friends of Syria" conclave was nowhere near as
effective as last year's "Friends of Libya." The Assad regime isn't
as isolated as that of Muammar Qaddafi. So far, there has been no obvious trend
of officials jumping ship, and the opposition is far from united.
China and Russia should
support and urge Assad's regime to reform in accordance with the will of the
Syrian people. At the same time, China and Russia should help Syria resist
outside interference. Only Syria's people can determine its future. If the reforms
win the support of the majority of the public, the regime is likely to live on.
Syria has become a place
where countries in the Middle East as well as the great powers demonstrate
their political ambition and place bets. China, which has become involved in
this issue, can pull out at any time. But if it does it will pay a price.
In the past, China had to
develop while abiding by a world order dominated by the West. But over the past
few years, the international order has had a tendency to limit China's
development. It is unavoidable that China now sees the need to confront this.
The Syrian issue can be seen as an unintentional confrontation point.
China favors a path that
hurts the Syrian people least and not necessarily a path that benefits the West
most. If the West can accept what China does, an element of the new world order
will have been formed. But if China quits, there will be a different impression.
One way or another, whatever
China does on the Syria issue, the West will take note.
China's veto this time is
like water that has been poured. Many of the world's strategic changes
originate with China. Now it is time for China to face that seriously.
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