China must not join West's actions against IS

Updated: 2014-10-08 08:07

By Mei Xinyu(China Daily)

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When it comes to other economic fields, China's presence in the Middle East is mainly in commodity trade and construction projects with limited investment. Negotiations between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council started only in 2004 and were suspended in 2009. In contrast, Western countries' trade interests in the region date back hundreds of years, while they have been investing directly in the region for more than a century. Besides, countries along the Persian Gulf have been major players in the US and European investment markets since the 1970s.

Even in terms of the anti-terrorism campaign, Western countries have far a larger stake than China in the region. Though the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region of China has been included in the future "Islamic nation" by the IS, Xinjiang is only a small territory compared with the other regions the militant organization plans to "capture", including the Iberian Peninsula, the Caucasus, the Balkans, the Crimea and Hungary.

As far as size is concerned, the number of separatist "East Turkistan Islamic" forces is only a few hundred, and thus miniscule compared with the Muslim population in the US and European countries, which is roughly 40 to 50 million. "Extreme Islamism" has become the fastest growing cult in the US, especially after the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Extremists who have penetrated into the US military have caused a lot of bloodshed from within, including the indiscriminate shooting by an officer at the military base in Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.

All this is to say that since China does not have high stakes in the war against the IS, it should not join it, because it could possibly become a drain on its resources and strategic strength. Instead, it should focus on the crackdown on homegrown terrorists who pose an immediate threat to the country's security and prosperity.

The author is a researcher at the International Trade and Economic Cooperation Institute, affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce.

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