China says killing of Islamic State leader is progress, much work remains

China says killing of Islamic State leader is progress, much work remains
China says killing of Islamic State leader is progress, much work remains

The United States' killing of Islamic State's leader is important progress, but the world should not rest on its laurels in the fight against terrorism, China's special envoy to the Middle East said on Friday.

China has long worried aboutethnic Uighurs from China's far heavily Muslim western region of Xinjiang whohave travelled clandestinely to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamist groupsthere. Islamic State has killed at least one Chinese hostage and militantgroups have issued statements threatening to attack China.

Speaking to reporters following avisit to Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt last month, Zhai Jun said last month'skilling of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by U.S. forces was "important progress inthe fight against terrorism".

"But that does not mean theIslamic State has been completely wiped out," Zhai, an Arabic speaker andformer Chinese ambassador in Tripoli and Paris, said.

"The ideological tide ofterrorism lives on," he added. "We must not lower ourvigilance."

Affiliates of Islamic State, aswell as other militant organisations were still active in other countries, Zhaisaid.

Zhai's remarks on Baghdadi'sdeath were the most high profile to date on the issue from China, which hadpreviously only said it was closely monitoring the situation.

China has been looking to bolsterits traditional low-profile diplomatic role in the Middle East, where it haskey energy and business interests, though has made little noticeable impact sofar with its special envoys for the region.

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