14 February 2016 (TSR -Reuters) – China will not join any coalition fighting terrorist groups in the Middle East, but will do its fair share in its own way, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. He added that China is already helping Iraq.
China wants to develop deeper defence and anti-terrorism ties with the Arab world, including joint exercises, intelligence sharing and training, the government said in a policy document released last month.
While relying on the region for oil supplies, China has tended to leave Middle Eastern diplomacy to the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, Britain, France and Russia.
After a meeting of major powers in Munich aimed at breaking the deadlock on Syria, Mr Wang told Reuters on Thursday that Beijing would not join international coalitions fighting against militants in the region.
“There is a tradition in China’s foreign policy. We do not join in state groups that have a military nature and this also applies to international counter-terrorism cooperation,” Mr Wang said.
“It doesn’t mean that China will not play its role in fighting terrorism.
“It has been (doing so), but in its own ways.”
China passed a counter-terrorism law in December which allows its military to venture overseas on counter-terrorism operations, though experts have said China faces big practical and diplomatic problems if it ever wants to do this.
Beijing has been trying to get more diplomatically involved, especially in Syria, recently hosting both its foreign minister and opposition officials.
It also has its own worries about the radicalisation of the Muslim Uighur people who live in China’s far western Xinjiang province.
“We have been helping Iraq with counter-terrorism capacity-building and conducting intelligence sharing with certain countries,” Mr Wang said without elaborating.
“We are (also) working with countries to cut the channels of financial resources and movements of terrorists,” he said.