Chen Xiaodong, director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Department of West Asian and North African Affairs, on Tuesday exchanged views with chinadaily.com.cn readers on China's diplomacy in 2011 and talked about China’s stances on the current situation in the Middle East region, which has become a world focus.
Topic: Iranian issue
Q: Against Iran’s repeated threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, the United States warned that closing the Strait is a red line that Iran should think twice before crossing. As the tensions between Iran and Western countries intensify, where does China stand and what has the Foreign Ministry done?
A: We prefer negotiation to military force in resolving conflicts between countries and oppose imposing unilateral economic or oil sanctions on Iran.
We support the nuclear non-proliferation system, oppose Iran developing nuclear weapons，and back the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East region, but we respect the right of Iran to use nuclear power peacefully.
China welcomes Iran’s move to restart nuclear negotiations and urges relevant parties to stay calm to ensure regional peace and stability.
Q: Will new sanctions by Western countries on Iran harm Sino-Iran cooperation?
A: China has maintained normal and transparent ties with Iran in the fields of economy, trade and energy, which are beneficial to people of both countries at no expense of a third party.
Topic: Syrian issue
Q: What are China’s plans for the possible evacuation of Chinese nationals in Syria?
A: The situation in Syria is a threat to the safety of Chinese personnel and assets there. We have alerted Chinese enterprises and employees of the issue. The Chinese embassy in Syria also maintains constant contact with Chinese enterprises and personnel. It’s been a while since the turbulence in Syria, and in fact some non-essential Chinese have already been evacuated from Syria.
As far as I know, there are not many Chinese in Syria at present, and they are all prepared for an evacuation at any time. The Foreign Ministry will send an alert if needed and provide efficient service and assistance according to the development of the situation.
Q: How does China view the situation in Syria? What is China’s stance on this issue?
A: China insists on solving the Syrian problem by peaceful means. We urge all relevant parties to halt the violence and start talks.
China will firmly continue its effort for the future of a peaceful Syria. As situation is still developing, we will do more work to get all parties back to talks.
The Arab League (AL) is pressing on its mission in Syria and China supports the AL’s role in the crisis and hopes it will solve the problem with a balanced and continued effort.