China urges “immediate” end to Libya conflict


China again urged an end to fighting in Libya, saying it has “always opposed” any action not authorised by the U.N. Security Council, after Libya said Muammar Gaddafi’s youngest son and three grandchildren were killed in a NATO airstrike.

“We hope all parties can cease fire immediately and solve the current crisis in a peaceful way through dialogue and negotiation,” Jiang Yu, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said in a statement on the website.

She added that China was concerned about the rising number of civilian casualties from the conflict, Reuters reports.

The deaths of Gaddafi’s family members are sensitive as they will likely feed accusations that NATO has over-stepped its U.N. mandate to protect Libyan civilians.

Libyan officials have said the deaths were part of an attempt to assassinate Gaddafi.

China’s government has been critical of the West’s airstrikes on Libya from the start, having abstained from a U.N. Security Council vote that authorised intervention.

Some analysts said China’s strident opposition arises in part from a fear that it may some day see its own power challenged by demands for human rights and democracy.

Gaddafi, who is fighting a rebellion against his authoritarian rule, has pressed an offensive against rebel forces after his son was killed, with his supporters burning Western embassies in Tripoli.