China opposes war on Iraq and believes weapons inspectors should be given more time to enforce UN resolutions on disarmament, the Communist Party’s top newspaper said in a commentary today.
“China believes that more time must be allowed for weapons inspections and it supports boosting the resources and technological capability of the inspectors,” said the People’s Daily editorial, headlined, Strengthen inspections, do utmost for peace.
As the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, People’s Daily often voices China’s official policy positions.
The view was in line with the government’s long-standing stance advocating more weapons inspections.
Noting widespread opposition to US military action against Baghdad, the editorial said that “China stands with the international community in exerting utmost efforts to peacefully resolve the Iraq problem and avoid military moves that would result in calamitous casualties”.
Emboldened by Russian and French opposition, China has made its rejection of US war plans increasingly pointed.
Speaking by telephone yesterday with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, President Jiang Zemin urged continued UN-based efforts to use “every possible method to avoid war”.
With about 60% of its oil coming from the Middle East, China’s vast economy would be highly vulnerable to price fluctuations resulting from a disruption in supplies.
Beijing is unlikely to risk damaging relations with the US, its biggest trading partner, by casting a veto against a US-sponsored UN resolution paving the way for war.
But with two others of the five veto-holding permanent members of the UN Security Council – France and Russia – also opposed, Beijing probably wouldn’t have to use its veto.
Washington needs nine votes and no vetoes on the 15-member Security Council to pass its resolution – support it doesn’t appear to have.
Mexico has indicated it may join the US, Britain and Spain in backing the resolution.
But France, Russia and Germany advocate a plan to continue weapons inspections in Iraq for four more months – a position China supports, the editorial said.
It stressed China’s commitment, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to preserving the unity, authority and usefulness of the UN.
And it urged Iraq to “resolutely carry out UN resolutions and provide complete co-operation with UN inspection institutions”.
At the same time, China supports Iraq’s “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity”, the commentary said – a position in line with Beijing’s traditionally non-interventionist foreign policy.
“China believes that how the Iraq problem is resolved will have a far-reaching impact on the international order and on international relations in the new century,” the editorial said.