China's state media on Monday defended Beijing's veto of a UN resolution condemning Syria for its deadly crackdown on protests, a move that has drawn international condemnation.
The People's Daily newspaper, the mouthpiece of China's Communist Party, said passing the resolution would have led to a "new disaster" in Syria, where opposition groups say at least 6,000 people have now been killed.
"The current situation in Syria is extremely complex," the newspaper said in a signed commentary carried in the news section.
"Simply supporting one side and pressuring the other seems like a way to help bring a turn for the better, but actually it is planting the roots of a new disaster."
China joined Russia on Saturday to block a UN Security Council resolution criticising the Syrian government's handling of protests, repeating their rare double veto carried out on October 5.
Thirteen countries voted for the resolution proposed by European and Arab nations to give strong backing to the Arab League's plan to end the crackdown.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the veto a "travesty" and vowed to push for new sanctions on Syria.
Some Chinese web users took a different stance to the government, using weibos -- microblogs similar to Twitter -- to condemn the violence in Syria.
"The Syrian people are being slaughtered. But China cast an opposing vote in the Security Council," said ArshavinThe23, who is based in the central Chinese province of Hunan.
"I just want to say, dictator supported dictator," added Qiao Baibai on the popular Sina microblog service.
The People's Daily said encouraging a country to peacefully deal with internal conflicts would help bring stability.
"The international community needs to allow more opportunities for peace, that it's real responsibility to the Syrian people," it said.
A top Chinese diplomat said over the weekend that other nations had failed to take account of "reasonable" revision proposals suggested by Russia.
"To push through a vote when parties are still seriously divided over the issue will not help maintain the unity and authority of the Security Council," China's UN representative Li Baodong said, as quoted by the Xinhua news agency.