China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying did not say whether U.S. President Donald Trump told China’s President Xi Jinping that he was planning to strike Syria before it was publicly announced.
The U.S. said it launched missile strikes on Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack by the government shortly after a dinner between Xi and Trump ended on Thursday night.
When asked at a news briefing if the Chinese side was given advance warning she responded: “I have no information on that.”
She said that China “always opposes the use of force in international relations” when asked China’s position on the U.S. strike.
“[China] maintains that disputes should be peacefully resolved through political and diplomatic means such as dialogue and consultation,” Hua said.
“Given the current situation, we hope that all parties can keep calm, exercise restraint, prevent further deterioration of the situation and uphold the hard-won process of political settlement of the Syrian issue.”
She said that China’s position on chemical weapons has been consistent.
“We are shocked at the latest chemical weapons attack in Syria and strongly condemn it,” Hua said. “We oppose the use of chemical weapons by any country, organization or person for any purpose and under any circumstance.”
When asked if the military action on Syria will impact the current summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump, Hua said: “I will not get ahead of their talks and predict how they are going to prioritize their topics, but I believe they will exchange views on bilateral relations, international and regional issues of common interest and what they think are important and urgent.”
China supports U.N. agencies in carrying out independent and comprehensive investigations into all uses or suspected uses of chemical weapons, she said.
“What is imperative now is to prevent further deterioration of the situation and uphold the hard-won process of political settlement of the Syrian issue,” Hua said.
When asked if the U.S. strike signaled a shift from recognizing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Assad to pursuing a regime change, Hua said that the question would be better posed to the United States.
“You’d better ask the U.S. side whether their actions indicate a shift in policy,” Hua said.
“The Chinese side upholds the principle of non-interference in others’ domestic affairs. We believe that the future of Syria should be left in the hands of the Syrian people themselves. We respect the Syrian people’s choice of their own leaders and development path.”