This page was archived on October 2020.


Regional and global issue

49 - Relations with China on Syria, wider Middle East and Africa

Grade: B
Unity 4/5
Resources 3/5
Outcome 6/10
Total 13/20
Scorecard 2014: B- (11/20)

While China expressed concerns regarding this year’s security developmentsin the wider Middle East, it refused to get directly involved.

In the second half of 2014, ISIS emerged in Iraq and Syria, which raised serious concerns among EU member states. On the margins of the tenth ASEM meeting in October, Chinese and European leaders declared that “they [had] reviewed the situation in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and the Sahel and agreed to increase cooperation to counter the common threat of extremism and terrorism in these regions”. However, this position has not yet been followed by concrete measures by China. Despite calls from the US, and to a lesser extent from the EU, China was reluctant to engage in the fight against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria. At the UN anti-terrorism summit in September, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi recognised the threat and “supported” anti-terrorism efforts by countries in the region, but said China would not share intelligence or commit troops or weapons. China voted in favour of UN Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2165 on humanitarian access and aid in Syria. However, it did not show any greater willingness to get involved in the Syrian conflict than it did in 2013.

Meanwhile, China remained involved in peacekeeping missions in Africa. In fact, China now has more personnel in blue helmets in Africa than any other permanent member of the Security Council, including an infantry company in Mali and a full battalion in South Sudan. China also made an important contribution to the response to the Ebola epidemic in Africa in 2014. But while China’s engagement in Africa, mostly within the UN framework, has been increasing, it does not seem to be a top priority on China’s foreign policy agenda. Besides, although this increased involvement often occurs alongside the EU, it does not necessarily result from European efforts to engage China in these areas.