Chinese envoy urges U.S. to lift unilateral sanctions on Syria

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UNITED NATIONS, June 16 (Xinhua) — A Chinese envoy on Tuesday asked the United States to lift unilateral sanctions against Syria and called for progress in the political process.

“We urge the United States to respond actively to the urgent appeal of the (UN) secretary-general and the special envoy (for Syria), and to lift unilateral sanctions immediately,” said Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, at a virtual meeting of the Security Council.

Years of economic blockade have caused tremendous hardships to the Syrian people, in particular women and children. The sufferings caused by the devaluation of the Syrian currency and soaring commodities prices, including food prices, fall heavily on civilians across the country, Zhang said.

What is even more worrying is that the United States will impose new rounds of sanctions against Syria, which will inevitably further hinder the economic and social development of the country as well as the livelihood of ordinary Syrians, said Zhang.

As vulnerable countries like Syria are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, imposing more sanctions is simply inhumane and may cause additional catastrophes, he warned.

Noting that the human rights situation in Syria were discussed among Security Council members, Zhang said China is concerned about the poverty situation and about the possible famine in Syria as reported by UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen.

In his briefing to the Security Council, Pedersen sounded the alarm over the dramatic collapse in economic conditions throughout Syria.

The Syrian lira is devaluing and the inflation rate has peaked in the past six months. The economic crisis is hitting every part of Syria, regardless of territorial control, he said.

Before this recent deterioration, over 80 percent of Syrians were estimated to be living below the poverty line. The situation is more severe today. The World Food Programme estimates that some 9.3 million people are food insecure, with over 2 million at risk, said Pedersen.

Zhang said it is China’s consistent position to support the Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political process. Though the COVID-19 has caused additional difficulties for the political process, China firmly believes that “the political process should not stop under any circumstances,” he added.

Welcoming Pedersen’s plan to convene a third session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva toward the end of August, he said he expected progress in this round.

He said it’s of great importance for the Syrian parties to strengthen consultation within the Constitutional Committee, and engage constructively with the UN special envoy, suggesting other relevant parties play positive roles in helping the Syrians.

The Constitutional Committee, which comprises representatives of the Syrian government, the opposition, and civil society, was officially launched in Geneva on Oct. 30, 2019. The committee has yet to agree on an agenda.

Meanwhile, the international community should be alerted at terrorists seeking to take advantage of the current situation and must not allow that to happen, Zhang said. Enditem

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