BEIJING: China on Wednesday reiterated its opposition to military intervention or regime change in Syria, and called again for all sides to support mediation efforts by peace envoy Kofi Annan.
The killings in the Syrian village of Houla, some of which the U.N. peacekeeping chief on Tuesday said bore the hallmarks of pro-government militias, have increased pressure on Western governments to intervene.
"China opposes military intervention and does not support forced regime change," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a daily news briefing. "The fundamental route to resolving (the crisis) is still for all sides to fully support Annan's mediation efforts."
Liu also stopped short of saying whether China would expel Syrian diplomats, after many Western governments expelled their top Syrian envoys in protest against the killing of civilians in Syria.
"I have not heard that there has been any impact on the Syrian embassy in China," he said.
Western and Arab governments opposed to Syrian President Assad put the blame for the deaths squarely on his government, but Damascus has rejected the charge. The massacre was among the worst carnage of the 14-month uprising against Assad's government.
Military intervention cannot be ruled out if it is backed by the U.N. Security Council, French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday.
Beijing and Moscow have both vetoed two Security Council resolutions calling for tougher action against Damascus, while stressing hopes for a political solution brokered by Kofi Annan, the former U.N. Secretary-General.
Any military intervention in Syria needs to be discussed thoroughly as it would carry high risk, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said on Wednesday after expelling two Syrian diplomats a day earlier.
"To arm the Syrian opposition involves real difficulties. Members of the Assad government will interpret this as a licence to slaughter even more vigorously than they've been doing to their political opponents," Carr told reporters.