Beijing, China. The Chinese government on Friday warned against “the escalation of tension” in Syria after President Trump launched an airstrike on a Syrian government air base, adding a surprise twist to his two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In a pre dawn attack the US launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the base early Friday in response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria earlier this week that killed dozens of people in a rebel held area, many of them children.
Chinese officials went out of their way to encourage restraint, “We are concerned about the current situation in Syria and call for political settlement,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a news briefing on Friday. “We hope all sides will stay calm and exercise restraint to prevent the escalation of tension.”
China for years has condemned American use of military force abroad. Beijing blames Washington for destabilizing countries such as Egypt, Libya, Ukraine and others, by inciting unrest to topple nations not receptive to American overtures. Beijing worries that similar campaigns could jeopardize its own grip on power.
The Chinese further responded to this week’s chemical attack by calling for a “comprehensive, fair probe” by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and other U.N. organizations.
While China has taken a restrained position, Syrian leader Assad said in a rare interview on Chinese television recently, that Syria’s relationship with China “is going to be on the rise.” He called China “a real friend, a friend that you can rely on.”