China expressed regret Friday over former UN chief Kofi Annan's resignation as international envoy for Syria and said it would continue to "work for a political resolution" to the conflict.
Beijing, which along with Moscow has vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions on Syria, also said it wanted the United Nations to play an important role in trying to solve the deadly 17-month conflict.
"China expresses regret at Annan's resignation. We understand the difficulty of Annan's mediation work, and respect his decision," said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei in a statement.
"China supports the UN playing an important role in the appropriate resolution of the Syrian issue."
Annan announced on Thursday that he was quitting his role as the UN and Arab League envoy for Syria, complaining that his April peace plan had not received the support it deserved from major powers.
He also hit out at "continuous finger-pointing and name-calling" at the UN Security Council, which he said had prevented coordinated action to end the bloodshed.
His resignation sparked a new round of recriminations among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, with Washington blaming Beijing and Moscow's vetoing of three separate resolutions on the Syrian conflict.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Annan have both called for the Security Council to impose "consequences" if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition failed to carry out Annan's peace plan.
During a visit to Beijing last month, when he met China's President Hu Jintao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Ban said the Security Council must unite and take action on the "very serious" situation in Syria.
Analysts say China's unwillingness to back further action in Syria may stem from its discomfort with Western military intervention after last year's uprising in Libya, which eventually led to the fall of leader Moamer Kadhafi.
China consistently opposed military action in Libya within the 15-member Security Council, but did not use its veto to block the March 2011 resolution authorising the operation, instead abstaining in the vote.
It believes the West misinterpreted the resolution and went too far.
"External intervention to achieve regime change and to prevent a humanitarian disaster may appear to be sensible and responsible reasons to act," said the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of China's Communist Party, last month.
"Several wars since the start of the new century has repeatedly proved that the 'promotion of democracy' and 'humanitarianism' are a pretext for foreign powers who seek personal gain," it added.