China Enters Turkey-Russia Dispute Urging ‘Cooperation’

Jet Downed Reuters
Washington, D.C.

China joined other countries, including the United States, in urging steps to de-escalate the growing tensions about Turkey’s decision to shoot down a Russian warplane Tuesday, calling for the international community to work together in combating terrorism to avoid such incidents.

Reuters reports that China’s Foreign Ministry called for calm on Friday over Russia-Turkey tensions.

“A Russian warplane has been shot down and a pilot killed – this is an unfortunate incident and we express sympathy,” said the ministry in a statement.

It went on to say that the international community must coordinate in the fight against terrorism, which the ministry described as an urgent task.

“The relevant parties should increase communication to avoid further escalating the situation. The international community should earnestly strengthen coordination and cooperation in the fight against terrorism to avoid this kind of incident from happening again,” added the ministry.

Russia has accused Turkey of buying illicit oil and gas from the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Syria.

In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his backers, which include Russia, of being the source of ISIS’ financial and military power.

“The shooting down of the jet by the Turkish air force on Tuesday was one of the most serious clashes between a NATO member and Russia, and further complicated international efforts to battle Islamic State militants,” reports Reuters.

In an editorial, the Global Times, a mouthpiece for China’s Communist Party, warned that Russia could shoot down a Turkish warplane in retaliation for Tuesday’s incident and risk military confrontation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be “under more pressure to make Turkey pay a price for the downing and his personal prestige and Russia’s tough image will be tested,” asserts the Global Times op-ed.

“If Russia strikes down a Turkish warplane in Turkish airspace, or strikes a Turkish air base, it will touch NATO’s nerve,” it adds. “If NATO takes no action, its pledge to protect smaller alliance members will be discredited. However, if NATO adopts substantial action toward Russia, Europe will confront an unprecedented turbulent situation not seen since World War II.”

Earlier this year, Reuters described the Global Times as an “influential nationalist tabloid owned by the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper the People’s Daily,” noting that it reflects the views of high-ranking Chinese government officials.

Although it relies on the region for oil, China tends to leave diplomacy in the Middle East in the hands of the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, namely the U.S., Britain, France, and Russia.

Nevertheless, China has long declared that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict and has voiced criticism towards the West and Russia for launching airstrikes there.

“China has its own worries about Uighurs [Muslims] from China’s far western region of Xinjiang traveling to Syria and Iraq to fight with militant groups there,” notes Reuters.

ISIS, earlier this month, claimed it had killed a Chinese hostage, igniting outrage from China.