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Saturday, November 21

Uh oh. Three Chinese executives killed in Mali hotel attack

This comes on the heels of a Chinese hostage, Fan Jinghui, executed by Islamic State. From the NPR report November 19: China's Muted Response To ISIS' Killing Of A Chinese Citizen:
China's President Xi Jinping has condemned the Islamic State for killing a Chinese man held hostage by the extremist group. But in keeping with China's longstanding policy of not intervening in distant conflicts, he did not specify what action, if any, China might take.
It was not clear why Fan was in the region when he was seized, though he was believed to be there on his own, according to media reports. He is the first Chinese hostage to be killed by the Islamic State.
[...]
China has remained on the sidelines in Syria's civil war, part of a broader policy of avoiding direct involvement in conflicts far beyond its borders.
However, many Chinese citizens went online to debate how the country should respond, and some argued in favor of sending troops to fight ISIS.
Chinese censors quickly moved in to remove articles about Fan's killing and hawkish comments that appeared on social media, Foreign Policy reported.
As NPR Shanghai correspondent Frank Langfitt notes, the taking of Chinese hostages has been growing, and includes recent cases where large groups of Chinese workers were abducted in Egypt and South Sudan.

There's no evidence that ISIS or other radical groups are targeting Chinese, as has been the case with Westerners. Rather, it seems to be a function of China's large and growing international footprint.
Chinese construction companies are involved in many major building projects overseas and are willing to go to many unstable places in the Middle East and Africa where other international companies decline to go.
While denouncing terrorism, China has not responded with military force or other overt actions as the U.S. and some European countries have.
[...]
Okay, but it's a different story when three executives are killed -- and in a Western luxury hotel. The executives worked for China's state-owned China Railway Construction Corp, according to the South China Morning Post report, which headlined the executives' deaths.

Whether or not Xi's response to the murders is again muted in public, I think he'll take strong actions behind the scenes, and we should see the effects of these in 'enhanced' Chinese cooperation with foreign powers fighting Islamic State.

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