Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tough choices for Beijing following execution of Chinese ISIS militants

THE INTERPRETER - 6 February 2015  

Despite China's long-standing diplomatic principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states, Beijing cannot completely control its citizens' involvement in terrorist activity abroad. Whether China likes it or not, it is being drawn into the conflict against ISIS.  China's state media yesterday reported that three Chinese ISIS militants were executed in 2014 following their attempted desertion from the terrorist organisation.
Quoting an unnamed Kurdish security official, a reporter for the Global Times wrote that one militant was killed in Syria in September after becoming disillusioned and trying to return to the Turkish university where he had been a student. The other two were beheaded in December along with 11 other militants from six different nationalities.
In response to the report, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson simply stated: 'China opposes all forms of terrorism. China is willing to strengthen cooperation with the international community to fight together against terrorist forces, including the "East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM)", in order to protect regional and global security and stability.'
This standard statement effectively summarises the Chinese Government's thinking on counter-terrorism: the emphasis is on the international community's cooperation with China in its fight against the threats of domestic terrorism and separatism (ETIM is an Islamic terrorist organisation founded by Uyghur militants in western China), while China's cooperation with the international community in its fight against international terrorist organisations remains limited.