China urged Damascus and anti-government protesters today to "avoid bloodshed" and resolve differences through political dialogue after opposition campaigners said that around 20 people had been killed in clashes with troops on Wednesday.
Activists said that the deaths were caused by Syrian army shelling of the Bab Amr residential area in Homs and the al-Harrah neighbourhood in Daraa.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said: "Syria is an important country in the Middle East.
"We expect it to maintain stability and urge related parties to iron out differences through political dialogue and avoid bloodshed."
Ms Jiang said that the Chinese government believes that "outside forces should not intervene in Syria's internal issues so as to avoid complicating the situation."
On Tuesday Rami Makhlouf, a powerful businessman who advises Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told the New York Times that, if there is no stability in Syria, "there's no way there will be stability in Israel, no way."