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China Holds to Middle Line

CHINA is taking a comparatively neutral stand in the Gulf and may thus be well positioned to broker a settlement, say Western diplomats. China - the only member of the Security Council to abstain on a resolution authorizing use of force - has walked a fine line between conciliation toward Iraq and complete support for the anti-Iraq coalition. While urging Iraq's unconditional withdrawal, China had said before Wednesday's air strikes that the conflict must be settled by peaceful means, James Tyson writes from Beijing.

China expressed ``deep anxiety'' that the war will spread and called for restraint. More than two dozen Chinese voiced support for the US-led attack in calls to the Voice of America and the US Embassy in Beijing, say US officials.

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