China’s Foreign Ministry called on Turkey on Tuesday to halt its invasion of Syria against Kurdish militias, urging Ankara to “come back to the right course.”
Speaking at his daily press conference on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang was asked to comment on Turkey’s offensive against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) from the border areas, which have displaced tens of thousands of people.
Geng called on Turkey to abide by international law, despite Beijing’s own regular violations of such norms.
“China opposes the use of force in international relations,” he began. “We believe all sides should observe the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter as well as the basic norms governing international relations, and solve problems through political and diplomatic means under the framework of international law.”
Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity should be earnestly respected and safeguarded. We call on Turkey to stop its military actions and come back to the right course of political settlement.
Considering the severe situation for counterterrorism in Syria at the moment, relevant military actions may lead to the outbound escape of terrorists and the resurgence of the Islamic States. We urge Turkey to take up due responsibilities and combat terrorism with the rest of the international community.
China is one of many countries to condemn the offensive, with leaders from the United Kingdom, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, and Russia, as well as Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, also expressing their opposition. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Turkish ministries and senior government officials after pulling U.S. troops out the region, which many considered tacit permission for the Turkish military to invade.
Relations between China and Turkey have been strained over the past year after the Turkish government released a statement condemning Beijing for its imprisonment of millions of Uyghur Muslims, a Turkic ethnic group, in communist concentration camps. Outraged by the criticism, Chinese authorities responded by issuing a warning to its citizens traveling to Turkey, urging them to “be wary and pay attention to their personal safety.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to track back on his government’s criticisms during a visit to China in July, having previously denounced the policy as “genocide” against the Uyghurs a decade ago. In a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Erdogan reportedly stated that “it is a fact that the residents of various ethnic groups in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are living happily under China’s development and prosperity.”