Beijing (AFP) – China on Friday warned against “further deterioration” of the situation in Syria, just hours after a US air strike on a Syrian airbase in response to a suspected chemical attack.
The warning came as Xi Jinping met with US President Donald Trump at his Florida resort in Mar-a-Lago, where the Chinese leader had just hours earlier extended an invitation to the billionaire politician to pay a state visit to China later this year, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
China was “concerned” by the recent events in Syria, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular press briefing, adding: “What is urgent now is to avoid further deterioration of the situation.
“We oppose use of chemical weapons by any country, organisation or individual in any circumstance, for any purpose,” she said.
The massive strike — the first direct US action against President Bashar al-Assad’s government and Trump’s biggest military decision since taking office — marked a dramatic escalation in American involvement in Syria’s six-year civil war.
The meeting is the first face-to-face encounter between the leaders of the world’s two largest economic and military powers since a US election that featured frequent barbs at China’s “rape” of the American economy.
China is a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, and consistently says the crisis needs a “political solution”.
Declaring it in America’s vital national security interest to prevent the spread of chemical weapons, Trump accused Assad of a “very barbaric attack” in which “even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered.”