Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on Syria
29 August 2022
I thank Special Envoy Geir Pedersen and Assistant Secretary-General Joyce Msuya for the briefings. I would like to briefly highlight five points.
First, violations of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be brought to an end. Respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity is an important principle enshrined in the UN Charter and the cornerstone of international relations. The provisions of the UN Charter should not be mere quotes for lip service. They are not optional or subject to selective application, and they certainly do not lend themselves to misinterpretation or miss application. There is no doubt that the recent US military operations in eastern Syria constitute a violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and have nothing to do with the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the Charter. The unlawful presence of foreign forces and unlawful military operations in Syria must end.
Second, it is imperative to combat all forms of terrorism with zero tolerance. Terrorist Organizations such as Daesh, HTS, and the ETIM remain rampant in Syria, posing continued threats to international peace and security. It has been reported repeatedly that some of the terrorist organizations designated by the Council still have access to various forms of funding. Terrorism is terrorism, full stop. And any connivance, shielding, or politically-motivated utilization of terrorist forces is like rearing ferocious tigers, which would only lead to further perils. The international community must work in synergy to combat all forms of terrorism and all terrorist activities.
Third, we must stay the course in the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process. The only path to a political solution lies in letting the Syrian people decide the future of their country by themselves in the absence of any external interference. China supports the efforts of Special Envoy Pedersen to encourage and facilitate continued consultations and forge consensus among intra-Syrian parties. We welcome the important signals that the Astana process recently sent out on supporting the political process in Syria. We note the announcement by the Syrian Government that local council elections will be held in September, and we hope they will be held successfully.
Fourth, the transition of cross-border humanitarian operations to across-line deliveries must be accelerated. Since the adoption of Resolution 2642, only one cross-line operation has been completed in northwestern Syria with no significant improvements in terms of both efficiency and scale. We wish to register our profound disappointment at this. I would like to reiterate that cross-border relief was a temporary arrangement and made under exceptional circumstances, and that the transition to cross-line operations needs to shift into a higher gear with a clear timetable in place for the eventual termination of cross-border relief. At the same time, there is a need to vigorously promote early recovery projects throughout Syria, mobilize the international community to provide adequate financial support with no strings attached, promote the early operationalization of more projects, and nurture Syria’s domestic capacity and drivers for its economic development.
Fifth, the unilateral sanctions against Syria and illegal plundering of its resources must stop. Economic recovery and development is the ultimate means by which Syria can lift itself out of the humanitarian crisis. However, for a long time, unilateral sanctions have disrupted the lifelines of Syria’s economic recovery and development, and the illegal plundering has stolen away resources crucial to Syria’s economic recovery and development, causing incalculable damage to the Syrian people. A case in point is oil. Eighty-three percent of Syria’s daily oil production is being illegally sold out of the country, with oil smuggling convoys forming long queues at illegal border crossings. The international community must not turn a blind eye to such practices, and the Security Council should unequivocally call for a cessation of these activities.