BEIJING Any foreign counter-terrorism mission for China's armed forces would need to respect the charter of the United Nations and the sovereignty of the host nation, China's Defence Ministry said on Thursday, outlining the possible limits to such a deployment.
Under China's new anti-terrorism law, passed at the weekend, its military is allowed to venture overseas on counter-terrorism operations, though experts have said China faces big practical and diplomatic problems if it ever wants to do this.
China says it faces a threat not only from home-grown Islamists in its far western region of Xinjiang, but also from militants in the Middle East, some of whom it says are from Xinjiang.
In November, Islamic State said it had killed a Chinese citizen it had taken hostage in the Middle East.
Asked to elaborate on what the new law meant for China's armed forces and if they would now be venturing beyond China's borders on active anti-terror missions, Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said China had a "proactive" attitude towards international cooperation.
"Overseas anti-terrorism operations by the military and People's Armed Police must respect the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, adhere to the norms of international relations and fully respect the sovereignty of the country concerned," he told a monthly news briefing.
"Going forward, whether or not to send the military and People's Armed Police overseas to fight terrorism, will be arranged in accordance with a unified national plan," Yang added, without elaborating.
China always says it does not interfere in the affairs of other countries, and is the only permanent member of the U.N. Security Council which has not taken military action in Syria.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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