China Power

ISIS: Chinese Hostage ‘Executed’

With the Islamic State now directly killing Chinese citizens, will China be drawn into conflict in the Middle East?

ISIS: Chinese Hostage ‘Executed’

Islamic State (also known as ISIS) claims to have killed two hostages, one a Chinese citizen and the other a Norwegian. The news was included in Islamic States’ English language online magazine, Dabiq, reports the New York Times.

ISIS said both men (identified as Fan Jinghui and Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad) had been “executed after being abandoned by kafir nations and organizations.” The same issue of the magazine also claimed to reveal the bomb that destroyed a Russian passenger plane in Sinai, killing 224 people.

In September, Dabiq had published pictures of both men and said they were “for sale.” Along with their pictures, the magazine provided a contact number for “whoever would like to pay the ransom for [the men’s] release and transfer,” while warning the chance to random the hostages was a “limited time offer.” A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson later confirmed that the photos of the hostage matched a Chinese national known to be in the area.

The news of the executions comes global leaders are doubling down on the fight against ISIS, which occupies territory in both Syria and Iraq. The group claimed responsibility for coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris last week, which left 129 dead. World leaders condemned the attack and renewed their commitments to the fight against terrorism.

Chinese President Xi Jinping condemned the “barbarous action in the strongest possible terms” in a message to French President Francois Hollande. China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that China “firmly supports the French side in maintaining national security and stability and combating terrorism.”

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However, to date China has mostly stayed on the sidelines of the fight against ISIS, rather than supporting military operations against the group spearheaded separately by the United States and Russia. That’s in part because ISIS has not posed a direct threat to Chinese citizens, although Chinese officials have warned that the group has been successfully recruiting members of the Uyghur ethnic group.

That’s now changed – in addition to reports of Fan’s execution by ISIS, a Chinese citizen was shot during the attacks in Paris. China’s embassy in France reports that the victim is in good condition after being hospitalized. But China Daily notes that over 1,000 Chinese tourists were believed to be in Paris on Friday evening, when the attacks were conducted.

After the Paris attacks, Chinese officials urged increased global cooperation against terrorism, including against a Xinjiang separatist group China has identified as its major terrorist threat. But Beijing remained vague on the question of what it will contribute to the global fight against ISIS, declining to explicitly offer its support for air strikes being conducted against the group in Syria.

Beijing is unlikely to change its position even after the murder of a Chinese hostage, but it does reinforce the message that an increasingly global China faces new threats – including from overseas terrorist groups like ISIS.