The Europeans have been circulating the draft of a Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian government for its violent suppression of non-violent protests. China and Russia have always been lukewarm to the idea. Russia in particular has been outspoken in its belief that NATO has over-reached its mandate in Libya and Russian reticence on any sort of Syrian resolution is not-so-subtle payback to NATO. China has been a bit more reticent than Russia about its objections…that is, until now.
“The stability of Syria has a bearing on the stability of the whole region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news briefing.
“The Chinese government supports Syria’s efforts to protect its sovereignty and stability and we hope that stability and order in Syria will be restored as soon as possible,” she added.
“In the current circumstances, we believe that the adoption of the U.N. Security Council resolution would do no good for the easing of tensions and stability in Syria.” [Emphasis mine]
This is significant because China and Russia appear to be showing a unified front. Despite the reputation, China and Russia do not typically veto resolutions at the Security Council together. In contentious debates like this, the strategy of western diplomats is often to try and mollify the concerns of one of the two in order to isolate the other. Both China and Russia don’t like very much to be isolated–and strenuously avoid being put in a position in which they cast a lone veto. More often than not they will simply abstain from a vote and let it pass. But when they are seemingly so unified in their opposition as they seem to be on the Syria question, there is very little chance that the resolution would even come to a vote.