China will expand its involvement in political efforts to end the fighting in Syria, but limit its direct participation to providing humanitarian aid, a senior Chinese diplomat said. Special envoy to Syria Xie Xiaoyuan urged the United States and Russia to resume talks, less than a week after Russian officials said the political process would be “postponed indefinitely.” “China has expressed repeatedly that the issue can only be resolved through political settlement and that military means will lead nowhere,” Xie told reporters in Beijing. “We call on the United States and Russia to make efforts to resume their consultation on the cease-fire.” China’s growing engagement in the region attracted particular notice in August after a top People’s Liberation Army officer met with Syrian and Russian officials in Damascus to discuss Chinese cooperation. Although China has rejected the possibility of engaging militarily, it has consistently offered diplomatic support for Russia, an increasingly close strategic partner. China voted alongside Russia against a Western-backed United Nations cease-fire proposal last month and it has characterized Russia’s bombing offensive in Aleppo — condemned by the West as a series of deadly attacks on civilians — as a legitimate campaign against terror targets.
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