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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Liu Weimin's Regular Press Conference on February 9, 2012

Q: It is learned that a Syrian opposition delegation visited China recently. Please confirm and brief us on that.

A: At the invitation of the Chinese People's Association for Foreign Affairs, Haytham Manna, Deputy General Coordinator and head of the external branch of the Syrian National Coordination Body for Democratic Change led a delegation to visit China from February 6 to 9. During his visit, Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun met with him and officials from the Department of West Asian and North African Affairs held talks with him. The two sides exchanged views on the current situation in Syria.

China expounded on its principled position on the Syrian issue, underscored that China is highly concerned about the developments in Syria and called on all relevant parties in Syria, including the Syrian authorities to cease all violence, take concrete measures to ease the tension and avoid civilian casualties. The Syrian people's reasonable aspiration for change and protection of their interests should be respected. The Syrian Government should honor its commitment of reform in real earnest, launch the inclusive political process with the extensive involvement of all parties as soon as possible and remove differences through dialogue and consultation. China, as a friend of the entire Syrian people, seeks no selfish interests on the Syrian issue. It neither shelters nor intentionally opposes anyone. On the contrary, we bear in mind the fundamental interests of the Syrian people, peace and stability of the Middle East region and relevant norms governing international relations. In this connection, we keep in contact and communication with all relevant parties of the Syrian issue, opposition parties included, with a view to promoting peace talks. We have done a great deal to ease the tension in Syria. China will continue to enhance communication with relevant parties in Syria so as to dissolve the Syrian crisis peacefully and appropriately through unremitting efforts.

The delegation set forth the Body's opinion and stand on the current situation in Syria, appreciated China's long-standing just position on the Middle East affairs and expressed the willingness to strengthen communication with China and the hope to see China playing a bigger role in striving for an early end to the Syrian crisis.

Q: When was the Syrian opposition delegation invited to visit China? Is it related to China's veto on the Security Council's draft resolution on Syria?

A: To my knowledge, this visit has been scheduled long ago. China has been in touch with major Syrian opposition groups over a stretch of time. During Chinese Special Envoy on the Middle East Issue Ambassador Wu Sike's visit to Syria last October, he met with leaders from the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change and other Syrian opposition groups. China has also made contact and maintained interactions with the National Council of Syria. China will continue to promote peace talks and play a constructive role in solving the Syrian issue peacefully and appropriately.

Q: Canadian Prime Minister is visiting China. Did the two sides touch upon the Syrian issue?

A: Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Harper held talks yesterday. The two sides mainly exchanged views on bilateral relations, reaching agreement on many issues and obtaining practical outcomes in various fields. A number of international and regional hot-spot issues were also covered in their talks.

Q: Chinese nationals kidnapped in Sudan have arrived in Beijing safely. How does China view the practice of kidnapping civilians for political purposes? Is China worried about the recurrence of similar incidents in the future?

A: Kidnapping innocent civilians for political purposes is a practice universally condemned by the international community. Accidental as the abduction of Chinese engineers and technicians in Sudan is, it has inflicted harm on relevant personnel's mental and physical health and has a very bad influence. China expresses firm objection in this regard. Over the years, Chinese enterprises' mutually beneficial cooperation projects in African countries have played an active role in promoting local economic and social development to the benefit of the local people. We hope relevant countries take practical measures to ensure the property and personal safety of Chinese institutions and personnel.

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