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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at Security Council VTC Meeting on Syria (Political)

2020/07/23

Mr. President,

I thank Special Envoy Mr. Pedersen for his briefing. We appreciate his relentless efforts under such challenging circumstances. I also thank Ms. Mustafa for her remarks.

China’s position on the Syrian issue is consistent. We support a "Syrian-led, Syrian-owned" political process from the very beginning. We encourage and support the Special Envoy to make every effort to promote political dialogue and enhance mutual trust among parties concerned. We hope the Secretary-General and Special Envoy's ceasefire appeals will be accepted by all parties to the conflict so as to foster an enabling environment for negotiations.

We are pleased to learn that Constitutional Committee will hold its third round meeting by the end of August, and we look forward to seeing more progress in this round of consultation. It could become a window of opportunity if the Syrian parties engage constructively with each other and with the UN Special Envoy under the Constitutional Committee framework.

China welcomes the convening of Astana virtual summit on July 1st, and the Joint Statement released by Iran, Russia, and Turkey afterwards. The Joint Statement contains many positive elements with regard to the situation in Syria, such as standing against separatist agendas, opposing illegal seizure and transfer of oil revenues that belong to Syria, rejecting all unilateral sanctions and so on. China would be happy to see the Astana Process continuing to contribute to the political process in Syria.

With regard to the economic situation in Syria, we are deeply concerned by the bleak picture depicted by the Special Envoy. The devaluation of Syrian currency and the soaring prices of food exacerbate existing grave humanitarian situation in Syria and further hurt the Syrian people across the country. World Food Program and UN Food and Agriculture Organization have repeatedly sounded alarm on the food insecurity in Syria.

The reason behind the sufferings of the Syrian people is self-evident. Years of economic blockade and illegal sanctions have worsened the socio-economic and humanitarian situations in Syria, undermined the livelihoods of the Syrian people, and caused tremendous hardships to innocent civilians, in particular women and children. At this critical time, the unilateral sanctions further compromised the capacity of Syria to ensure access to food, essential health supplies and medical support to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is against humanity and totally unacceptable.

The international community must take actions to help the Syrian Government to cope with these economic and humanitarian challenges. We urge relevant countries to respond actively to the appeals of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy on lifting unilateral sanctions immediately. We also request OCHA to assess the humanitarian impact of unilateral sanctions, as an integral part of the humanitarian reports. Those who claim that unilateral sanctions have no harm on Syria, should join China and many other countries in requesting a Secretary-General report on this issue.

We welcome the efforts by relevant parties to maintain ceasefire and promote stability in Syria. The international community must be alerted and keep an eye on the terrorist activities in northwest Syria. We should not allow terrorist groups to take advantage of the current situation. The Security Council should support the Special Envoy's call for effective, cooperative and targeted counter-terrorism efforts. We call on relevant parties to launch negotiations and take concrete actions on counter-terrorism.

Mr. President,

The future of Syria must be decided by the Syrians, without foreign interference. It is fundamental to respect and uphold the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. China will continue to support the good offices of the Special Envoy in fulfilling his mandate endorsed by Security Council Resolution 2254 and work with the international community for a lasting peace in Syria.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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