A high-ranking Chinese minister has flown to Syria in a bid to stop the bloodshed in the country.
Before leaving Thursday, Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said China does not approve of armed intervention to force regime change in Syria, adding that the trip was intended to end the violence which has ravaged the country for almost a year.
The move follows a controversial joint Chinese-Russian veto of a UN resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
[China] does not approve of the use of force to interfere in Syria or the forceful pushing of a so-called regime change, the Foreign Ministry cited Zhai as saying on its website
The West and many in the Arab world scolded China for its veto after months of bloodshed between Syrian forces and protesters demanding reform. Beijing said it was simply trying to prevent more violence and was acting in accordance with the U.N. charter.
According to Reuters, Zhai, who will travel to Syria on Friday and Saturday, said China believes that, sanctions or the threat of sanctions are not conducive to the appropriate resolution of this issue.
The Foreign Ministry did not give details of Zhai's agenda or whom he would meet with. Interestingly, last week, Zhai met with a Syrian opposition delegation in Beijing.
Zhai added that China wants the Syrian situation solved within the framework of the Arab League.
The visit comes a day after al-Assad announced a constitutional referendum, scheduled for Feb. 26, to create a multi-party system.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Damascus soon after the United States shut down its embassy there.
Speaking to China's Xinhua news agency, Syria's former ambassador to the United States Imad Mustafa, said: Last week, Russia's foreign minister visited Syria and in Damascus about 2 million people holding Russian flags turned out to greet him and say 'thank you'.
If Chinese officials also pay a visit there, there would be even more Syrian people there to greet them.
After 11 months of fighting between Syrian government forces and the opposition movement has left at least 6,000 dead.