China helped escort the first batch of chemical weapons out of Syria yesterday as part of a joint mission to disarm the country.
The Chinese frigate Yancheng entered Syria’s waters on Tuesday along with ships from Russia, Denmark and Norway.
Russian trucks transported chemicals from two sites to the northern port of Latakia, where they were loaded onto a Danish cargo ship. The weapons will be moved to a port in Italy, where they will be taken aboard a US ship and destroyed.
The Yancheng set sail on December 1 and docked in Cyprus four days ago.
The Foreign Ministry’s Arms Control Department said China took part in the "multilateral coordination operation" in response to appeals from the UN Security Council and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the country’s participation showed its commitment to maintaining international peace and safety as a permanent member of the council.
China and Russia have vetoed three UN resolutions to impose sanctions against Syria and always sought political resolution, warning against military intervention.
In the recent years, Beijing has increasingly been willing to engage in multi-national diplomatic efforts to solve regional conflicts, quite a departure from its traditional stance, which was characterised by reluctance to “interfere with the internal affairs of other countries”.
China was one of the six major powers that brokered a historic deal with Iran in November that freezes key parts of the Islamic country’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions.
The deadline for destroying Syria’s entire chemical weapons programme is June 30.