Will hostage killing prompt China to join global fight against terrorism?

The last few weeks have once more put the ruthless killings of civilians by the Islamic State into the spotlight. Other than in the months and years before, the killings not only affected local populations in Syria and northern Iraq, but also took place in the European heartland and destroyed the life of people hitherto unaffected by the IS.
China said it will also join the broad coalition to fight the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. On Wednesday, the radical jihadist organization announced in their online magazine Dabiq the execution of a Chinese and Norwegian hostage. Pictures of the dead bodies were subsequently published. The Chinese government vowed to make those responsible accountable.
President Xi Jinping condemned the brutal killing. China firmly promised to fight terrorism and other criminal activities.
It was just in September when the Chinese government confirmed that a Chinese citizen was being held in captivity by the Islamic State. Officials stated that they used all available means to save the hostage. The killed hostage was a 50-year-old teacher, who was known to be adventurous.
The fight against international terrorism was also a topic at the APEC meeting in the capital of the Philippines in Manila. In a draft of the final declaration, which was published on Thursday, the APEC leaders pledged to safeguard their open and free economies and not let terrorism threaten their core values. They stressed the need for cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism.
The big gestures make clear that jihadist extremism of the Islamic State is not confined to certain nations which are militarily or otherwise involved in the conflict, but has increasingly become a problem for states who are not directly involved. The borderless nature, meaning the capability to execute attacks anywhere and anytime, as well as the attraction, which seduces many youth to fight for the Islamic State, are the main features of the jihadist campaign, which need to be tackled by the international community.
The refugee situation, the Paris attacks and the uninterrupted high level of brutality in Syria and Iraq all syncronized with a general sentiment of different nations to battle the Islamic State.
The United States and Russia as the main drivers of the combat against the jihadis are in need of worldwide support and direct on-the-ground assistance. It is not enough to utter good words; if concrete actions don’t follow, and that means military action, this war cannot be won. It is therefore of highest importance that big (military) powers like China are now willing and actively offering assistance in the fight against the extremists in the region.
The execution of one of its citizens might also lead to a bigger domestic discussion of China’s role in the region.
The question is what can China contribute? And, in view of the balance of power in the Middle East, will the other powers be willing to let China play an active role in the conflict?

The author is a Beijing-based freelance writer.

(The article is translated by Wu Jie.)

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