The U.S.-led air attacks on suspected chemical weapons facilities in Syria have raised grave global concern, with protests calling for an end to the raids and politicians calling for a return to dialogue to avoid escalated tensions.
A resolution condemning the attacks by the U.S., British and French bombardments failed to pass in a United Nations Security Council emergency meeting on Saturday. The meeting was convened at Russia's urging 14 hours after the air raids began, targeting sites suspected of being related to Syria's chemical weapons capabilities and despite the arrival of a fact-finding mission in Damascus.
Russia, China and Bolivia voted for the draft; the United States, Britain, France and five others voted against; and four abstained.
The airstrikes, launched Friday night, had been limited to three military locations: a research center at the airport in Damascus, a suspected chemical weapons facility near Homs and an equipment storage site, also near Homs, according to the U.S. State Department. Both U.S. and Russian sources indicated there had been no civilian casualties. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN could not independently verify those reports.
China opposed the use of force in international relations and called for respect for other countries' sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, Ma Zhaoxu, China's permanent representative to the UN, said after the vote.
"Any military action bypassing the Security Council runs contrary to the purpose and principles of the UN Charter and violates the principles of international law and the basic norms governing international relations, and will further complicate the Syrian issue," Ma said.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying urged on Saturday the relevant parties to return to the framework of international law and resolve the issue through dialogue.
She said that China believes a comprehensive, impartial and objective investigation should be carried out to reach a reliable conclusion that could stand the test of time.
"Yet before that, a prejudgment should not be made," she said, adding that political settlement is the only viable way out for the Syrian issue.
Guterres said there is no military solution, only a political one. "I urge all member states to show restraint in these dangerous circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate matters and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people," he said.
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia condemned in the strongest possible terms the attack on Syria and urged the U.S., Britain and France to immediately end "aggressive" actions.
Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja'afari said the U.S., Britain and France were "liars". He said if they knew the locations of chemical weapons makers, why had they not shared that with the Organization of Prevention of Chemical Weapons?