China, which along with Russia has repeatedly rejected international intervention in the civil war in Syria, issued a cease-fire proposal on Thursday.

The proposal, reports The New York Times, calls for a "phased-in truce" and the "establishment of a transitional authority," but does stop short of calling for the ouster of President Bashar Assad.

As the Times reads it, this overture "appeared to reflect concern by Chinese leaders that their consistent support for the legitimacy of the government of President Bashar al-Assad had strained China's relations with other Arab countries that have been pushing for Mr. Assad's removal."

Xinhua, China's official English-language news outlet, reports that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said that "a political settlement is the only viable solution in Syria."

Reuters spoke to Guo Xian'gang, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, a government think tank. Guo said that this proposal isn't a shift in the position China has already held but it is more concrete.

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