China has finally decided to support Kofi Annan's efforts in Syria, now that he's calling for action the United States doesn't like—mainly because it may involve Iran. This is not exactly what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meant when she insisted China and Russia on Friday to "get off the sidelines" in Syrian peace efforts. It may not seem like a huge diplomatic maneuver, but China's new, vocal support for Kofi Annan's declaration that Iran "has a role to play" in forging peace in Syria is a role reversal because it has China backing a U.N. effort and the United States opposing it.
According to Reuters' Douglas Hamilton, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in Beijing on Wednesday that "China believes that the appropriate resolution of the Syria issue cannot be separated from the countries in the region." But U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Iran was being "destructive" by "giving direct material support to the Syrian killing machine." Iran, like China and Russia, has thus far supported Syria's government. China and Russia, which also supports Iran's involvement in the peace process, have both vetoed U.N. Security Council measures to intervene in Syria over the last year. Now that Annan has hit on one they like, the United States hates it. Clearly, everyone needs to get on the same page over there.