The world is currently haunted by video clips showing ISIS operatives beheading American journalists. The cruelty of the terrorists has broken the bottom line of human forbearance, and inspired indignation worldwide. ISIS is challenging the human conscience with an ideology preaching religious extremism and conquest by violence. It is increasingly clear that ISIS is a threat to peace and security; not only in Iraq and the region, but also the entire world. The United States has recently enhanced air strikes on ISIS forces in northern Iraq. But it has yet to work out a fundamental solution to the problem. The fierce offensives frequently launched by extremist organizations in Iraq and Syria have resulted in severe humanitarian crises in the region. Some have observed that the long-term conflicts and state of division in Iraq, present conditions in particular, indicate the failure of US policies and anti-terror strategies. Just as some American media have pointed out, US policies on the Middle East lack consistency, and are full of opportunism and utilitarianism. Instead of mitigating conflicts, expedient intervention with force will bring more terrorist threats to the US.
Meanwhile, some media have also shifted their attention to China. Western media have been struggling over what role China should play in Iraq and the Middle East. One moment they accuse China of not having done enough and of being a “free rider”; another moment they worry that, as Chinese interests in the Middle East expand, China may “get involved more deeply in Middle East affairs.” In fact, China’s role in the Middle East is persistent, active and constructive, consistent with its identity as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and major developing country, and with obvious Chinese characteristics. The basis of such a role is respect for the intention and principles of the UN Charter, as well as the sovereignty of countries, mutual respect, and equality of all nations. China has always been a positive energy preserving peace and stability and promoting common progress in the Middle East.
Four weeks ago, when ISIS began to scale their actions, I visited Iraq and its neighboring countries as a special envoy of China, conveying China’s staunch support for Iraq’s anti-terror endeavors, urging different factions there to reconciliate and to form an inclusive government, and promoting neighboring countries to make concerted efforts in the fight against terror. China has made persistent efforts in both security and development, Iraq’s two most pressing imperatives. China supports Iraq’s efforts to fight terrorism, safeguard national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity; hopes all concerned parties will work for the political resolution of hot-spot issues in the region and create a favorable environment for a political solution to the Iraq crisis; and is willing to collaborate with the international community to rebuild Iraq and stimulate a national reconciliation so as to eradicate the hotbed of terrorism.
The strategy of imposing a regime change on a country by force, or promoting “universal values” and western democracy has been proven false. Middle East countries have developed unique religious, social, political and economic characteristics over thousands of years of evolution, which determine that they won’t copy “western models”, and that they have to pursue their own course that best suits their own national conditions. Promoting political progress in the Middle East must take into consideration who can guarantee the peoples’ basic rights to live and need for survival. The current miseries in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan prove that the people’s most imperative needs are safety, food, and a life of dignity. Attempting to promote “political progress” in a country not yet ready can only generate disappointing outcomes. The seeds of democratic politics can only grow in the soil of peace and harmony.
Last but not least, the international community must seek consensus and synergy, abandon double standards, and speed up the political resolution of such hot-spot issues as the Syria crisis so as to not leave room for the incubation and spread of terrorism. Iraq’s neighboring countries should be aware of the serious threat from terrorism’s spillover, as a result of the escalation of terrorist forces in Iraq. They should put aside disputes, act immediately, and make concerted efforts to fight extremism and terrorism, and safeguard regional peace and stability. Terrorism is the top public hazard of the present-day world. Its eradication calls for global cooperation and a shared sense of urgency.