Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated several days ago that Russia would support Assad's stepping down if the majority of Syrians requested it. The remarks have been cited by analysts as proof Russia may waver in its stance on Syria. A few pro-Western Chinese also suggested China make adjustments so to avoid being sold out by Russia.
However, Lavrov also reiterated Russia's opposition against the UNSC passing a resolution supporting military action against Syria. This stance is in tune with China's. The conclusion that Russia has changed its Syrian stance is very unprofessional.
Russia and China are not against Assad stepping down. What the two countries oppose is external interference in Syria's political development. Moscow and Beijing support concerned Syrian parties in deciding the fate of Assad and his regime through negotiations.
This stance has been decided by Russian and Chinese national strategic interests and their fundamental diplomatic philosophy. It is not easily subject to change. The two countries may adjust specific policies depending on the circumstances. They both have the willingness and channels of communication for coordinating such an adjustment.
China and Russia's strategic position is moving closer as both are independent global strategic powers facing Western-dominated rules being imposed on the world. As long as the broad global strategic environment remains, the two countries will have more strategic cooperation than disagreements.
Russia is more clear and resolute in its stance on Syrian affairs, as Moscow has a bigger stake in Syria. China can coordinate with Russia as the two sides share basic principles. This will benefit China-Russia strategic trust and is important for China to win Moscow's support in issues such as Iran, where China has more interests.
If the Syrian situation worsens, Assad may not be able to avoid being toppled. But China cannot abandon the principle of opposing military intervention now. Even if Assad leaves power, China won't be embarrassed for sticking to this principle.
Having said that, China should engage the Syrian opposition as the situation develops. It should also support the UN's efforts to stabilize the Syrian situation. China recognizes Syria's reality today and will continue to do so in the future. But the reality now is that the Assad government is the largest political force in the country and more than half of the Syrian population supports its existence.
The Chinese public supports the non-intervention principle, which reflects China's national interests. It will not help ease the West's pressure on China even if we curry favor with the West on Syria. China's rise is the root reason of the West's suppression. Let's not be under any illusion - a fawning face will not change China's strategic relations with the West.