Chinese netizens showed a mixed response this week to criticism over Beijing's veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution that called for an end to nearly a year of bloodshed in Syria and for its leader, Bashar al-Assad, to step down.
While Chinese political activists and some bloggers condemned Beijing's veto, which came after violence has left about 6,000 people dead since protests began last March, some netizens drew parallels with Beijing's uncertainty over Libya, while others said China should stay out of attempts by other countries to interfere.
"I predict that in a few months' time, the spokesperson of the [foreign ministry] will stand on their podium and say 'we respect the choice of the Syrian people,'" wrote user @huidi on the popular Twitter-like service Sina Weibo.
User @uncharted_IIII replied: "When will they respect the choice of the Chinese people?"
"It reminds of of the way they kept changing the way they referred to the opposition forces in Libya," wrote user @chenduomi.
The vetoes from China and Russia drew the ire of the United States, Europe, and much of the Arab world, with Washington saying they could result in escalating violence.
China has defended its decision, saying it was aimed at avoiding more civilian casualties.
User @AntiCCTVdandaojidan issued a personal apology to the people of Syria for the decision.
"Speaking personally, as a Chinese citizen, and speaking for myself, I express the deepest apology to the Syrian people," the user wrote. "That veto did not represent me, and I will always stand with the Syrian people."
Fujian-based blogger and activist Peter Guo said he thought the Chinese government had acted inhumanely.
"The Syrian people are being massacred by their government," Guo said. "Soon after the veto, another 200 people died."
"This goes to show that the Syrian authorities started to kill people without the slightest restraint after they knew the resolution had been vetoed, including women and children," he said.
But user @woduibuqigongzuokuangdemojiezuo said the U.N. resolution was flawed.
"Let the people of Syria sort out Syria's problems," the user wrote. "There is no need for American imperialists to concern themselves; they should get Wall Street sorted out first."
In an anonymous poll on Sina Weibo posted on Sunday, around 85 percent of the 300-odd responses "strongly opposed" the veto, while 10 percent supported it.
Hong Kong-based current affairs commentator Zhou Bin said China would need to find some way of intervening to prevent bloodshed in Syria, even if no military force were used.
"There are large numbers of casualties among the Syrian population, so even if China doesn't agree with military intervention, they still need to ... take some action along with the international community," Zhou said.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party's newspaper, the People's Daily, said in an editorial on Tuesday that the international community should respect China's views, and that the U.N. Security Council was more than a "rubber stamp."
"Because of its rapidly rising power, China has a seat on the high table of international affairs, and it needs to get used to its new environment under the spotlight," the paper said.
"This means that China must deal with some difficult issues and make some complicated and tough choices, and it should courageously speak its own mind so as to help mold a new political order in the world."
In an apparent response to widespread criticism of the veto, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Tuesday that Beijing is considering sending officials to the region to push forward a political solution to the Syrian crisis.
Reported by Xin Yu for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English with additional reporting by Luisetta Mudie.