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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council Open VTC on Syria (Humanitarian)

2021/03/29

Mr. President,

I thank USG Mr. Lowcock and Executive Director Ms. Fore for their briefings. I also listened carefully to the statement by the representative of the civil society.

The decade-long conflict in Syria has brought untold sufferings to the country and its people. Many issues in the current situation in Syria warrant deep reflection. Facts have proved time and again that respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity is an international norm that must be upheld. Political solution is the only viable way to address hotspot issues. Supporting the path of development chosen by people that suits their national conditions is the fundamental way. Regime change is not an option, nor will it work. Unilateral sanctions can only aggravate the situation. External military intervention can only cause greater disasters and serious consequences.

Under the current circumstances, the international community should adopt a holistic approach, integrating the political security, economic and humanitarian aspects so as to jointly promote the early achievement of peace, security and development. Here, I wish to touch on the following points.

First, we must stay committed to the right direction of a political settlement and support the Syrian people in independently deciding the future of the country. China calls on all parties in Syria to cooperate with UN mediation to jointly promote progress in the work of the Constitutional Committee. The Syrian political process should adhere to the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned principle. The international community should firmly support the Syrian people in exploring the path of development. The Constitutional Committee should remain independent and free from external interference. The Astana process and related regional countries can play a coordinating and facilitating role. We welcome the fact that relevant Arab states are positively considering Syria’s return to the League of Arab States. This is conducive to advancing the political process in Syria, which should be encouraged and supported by the international community.

Second, we must fully leverage the leading role of the Syrian government so as to fundamentally improve the humanitarian situation on the ground. Given the acute pandemic and food security issue in Syria, targeted relief assistance should be provided with the focus on the humanitarian needs of women, children and other vulnerable groups. Recently, through the bilateral channel, China has provided Syria with 150,000 doses of vaccines and 750 tons of rice as the first batch, and we will continue to contribute to alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Syria. China welcomes COVAX planning to provide vaccines to the Syrian people. The Syrian government is cooperating with the UN, the NGOs and other partners in advancing the humanitarian operations, and bringing large amount of medical supplies to the northeast through cross-line delivery. China registers its appreciations. The international community should support the UN in opening the humanitarian delivery route from Damascus to the northwest as soon as possible, which will gradually reduce Syria’s reliance on the cross-border mechanism.

Third, unilateral sanctions and economic blockade should be lifted to help Syria restore normal order. With the economy in distress, the prices of oil and other commodities in the country have doubled, and the Syrian pound has depreciated 99% compared with the pre-war period, relying on aid alone cannot solve the problems faced by Syria in its economy. Achieving economic and social recovery and development is the durable solution. China appreciates the action by the Syrian Government to take up its responsibility to move ahead the agricultural reforms and promote trade cooperation. At the same time, it must be noted that unilateral coercive measures (UCMs) and the lack of reconstruction assistance have become the main obstacles to Syria’s economic recovery. The lifting of UCMs is a call for justice, and denying the serious harms of UCMs is nothing but self deception. OCHA should listen to the voice of several Security Council members and wide membership and the call of the Secretary-General, comprehensively assess the humanitarian impact of UCMs and submit a report to the Council. China calls on the international community to extend a helping hand to Syria to rebuild infrastructure and safeguard people's livelihood. Relevant assistance should follow the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and cannot be linked to the political process.

Fourth, foreign occupation must be stopped, and terrorism inside Syria must be eradicated. China supports efforts by the Syrian Government to safeguard its national sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity. We oppose intentions and actions that endanger Syria’s national security and divide Syria’s territory. The UN Charter contains clear provisions concerning the exercise of the right to self-defense, which cannot be misinterpreted or abused, nor used as an excuse for excessive force entrenched in Syria. Terrorist groups in Syria listed by the Council can stir up chaos any moment, threatening security and stability of the country and even the entire region. The international community must remain vigilant, strengthen cooperation and resolutely combat terrorism in accordance with international law and Council resolutions. Countless facts have proven that on the question of counter-terrorism, politicization and double standards benefit no one, and can cause endless harm.

An early solution to the Syrian issue is the ardent hope of the Syrians, and it is also in the interest of regional countries and the international community at large. China wholeheartedly hopes that Syria can emerge from the gloom of war and restore peace and tranquility as soon as possible. We will continue to play a constructive role in this respect.

I thank you, Mr. President.

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