BEIJING (AP) — China's opposition to a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning human rights violations in Syria was a courageous act of defiance against the West, a newspaper published by the ruling Communist Party said Saturday.
The vote, which followed China's recent veto of a similar resolution in the U.N. Security Council, indicates China's rising influence in world affairs, the Global Times said in an editorial.
"The country's courage to truly express itself and to calmly stand its ground is worthy of merit," the paper said.
"It is wrong to blindly come down on the side of the West in each vote," it said.
The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of the nonbinding resolution backing an Arab League plan calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and strongly condemning human rights violations by his regime. Russia and China, who both vetoed a similar resolution in the Security Council, voted against the measure.
China, which carried out a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1989, has refused to condemn Syria over the violence. Beijing's authoritarian leaders generally oppose any moves that could lead to humanitarian interventions, such as last year's NATO air campaign in Libya, and have themselves used overwhelming force in response to anti-government protests in Tibet and the traditionally Muslim northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Saturday's editorial gave no detailed justification for China's opposition to the resolution. Beijing's diplomats have said sanctions and condemnation would only complicate Syria's dilemma, although they support a negotiated settlement to the violence and urge Assad to honor reasonable demands for political reform.
Syria has seen one of the bloodiest crackdowns since the wave of Arab uprisings began more than a year ago. The U.N. says more than 5,400 people were killed in Syria last year alone, and the number of dead and injured continues to rise daily. In addition, 25,000 people are estimated to have sought refuge in neighboring countries and more than 70,000 are internally displaced.