Policy Alert: Paris Terrorist Attacks Provoke Responses from Rising Powers
The terrorist attacks in Paris by the Islamic State (IS) last Friday killed at least 129 people, leaving France and the world in great horror and sorrow. French President Francois Hollande responded by calling the attacks “an act of war” and pleading to wage a “merciless” fight against terrorism. U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the terrorist act an “attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.” In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, India, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil on the Paris terrorist attacks.
Chinese officials unanimously condemned the attacks and extended their condolences to France.
- Chinese president Xi Jinping on Saturday expressed deep condolences for the victims of the attacks. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said, “China is greatly shocked by the terrorist attacks that have caused massive casualties. China strongly condemns these attacks.”
- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sent a message of condolence to his French counterpart Manuel Valls. “In firm opposition to any form of terrorism, China is willing to work with France and the international community to confront the challenge and threat posed by terrorism to secure global peace,” Premier Li said.
- China will intensify counter terrorism security measures following the Paris attacks, according to Chinese minister of public security Guo Shengkun. The high profile attack in Paris could be a pattern that may be repeated elsewhere, “so China must be on high alert to combat terrorism,” according to a ministry statement.
- Feng Zhongping, vice-president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the border policy within Europe has provided room for terrorist activities. “To address this is beyond the capacity of France alone,” Feng noted.
- “China is facing the same threats from IS as France and must prepare for similar terror attacks, which were well-planned and targeted multiple locations at the same time with different firearms and equipment,” added Li Wei, anti-terrorism expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.
Russian officials expressed their condolences to the French people and urged the global community to take unified action against terrorism.
- Russian president Vladimir Putin extended his condolences to the people of France and affirmed that Russia is ready to assist France in investigating the attacks.
- In a media briefing following the G20 summit that took place this weekend, Putin stressed that he is certain the Islamic State should be suppressed before discussing reform in Syria. “What we should do first thing is to pool our efforts in the struggle against terror and terrorist organizations and to agree political reform on that basis,” he told the media.
- Russia’s presidential aide Yuri Ushakov added that “strategic Russian and American goals regarding the fight against Islamic State- they are quite similar, but they still differ as far astactics are concerned.”
- “President Vladimir Putin is constantly urging close cooperation in fighting this threat, which today is really the most serious mankind faces. However, the reaction from many states is still unwarrantably slow. They might voice support for this idea, but they don’t hurry to take any practical steps. The tragedy in Paris is one more signal for politicians and state officials that it is time to take joint steps in countering terrorism,” Federation Council chair Valentina Matviyenko said in an interview with Izvestia daily.
- Andrey Klimov, deputy chairman of the international affairs committee of Russia’s Federation Council, argued that while politicians have developed deeper awareness of the problem of “scattered terrorism” and “sleeping cells” of the Islamic State, “the world has not displayed greater unity in the struggle against terrorist threats.”
Indian newspapers were at odds with how the West should respond to the Paris attacks.
- “‘Act of war’ [by the IS] demands a swift, ruthless response,” argued The Pioneer, observing that as France “seems to be framing the Paris attack as its own 9/11, the possibility of a NATO-led full-scale military intervention against the Islamic State is strong.”
- The Times of India criticized the West’s “dithering” response to terrorism: “It’s unable to decide whether its goal is to topple IS or Syria’s Assad”; the U.S. carries out airstrikes but remains “averse to ‘boots on the ground,'” and the West fails to counter the IS’ propaganda “when it should be easy to get Syrian refugees to recount the horrors they’ve witnessed on IS-held territory and thus turn the narrative around.”
- The Economic Times argued that to annihilate the IS, “[o]uster of Syria’s Assad will have to be abandoned as an immediate goal,” and that this requires defeating the group’s ideology by “clarifying distortions at the level of theology, cutting off the funding of organizations and media outlets spreading hatred and, toughest of all, removing the material root grievances that terrorists exploit to nurture resentment.”
- While condemning the terror attacks, The Hindu also criticized France’s Syria policy that destabilized the West Asian country and “created circumstances for the rise of groups such as IS.” France didn’t use “its influence to facilitate a political settlement in Syria that would restore statehood in the war-ravaged country and eventually strengthen the war against IS…and thereby helped escalate the conflict.”
- The Business Standard warned against the rise of anti-Muslim xenophobia and pervasive security measures in response to the Paris attacks. “A more comprehensive solution must lie in preventing the further radicalization of some in Europe’s Muslim communities, not in creating states that push more deprived young men further down a path to fundamentalism and violence.”
- By framing the Paris attacks as a retaliation against France’s airstrikes in Syria, the IS “is attempting to restrain Western campaigns in Syria while at the same time pushing Western nations to formulate a coherent, vigorous military response in order to precipitate a confrontation that fits in with its apocalyptic worldview,” posited the Hindustan Times. “Mr. Hollande and other leaders cannot back down nor act in a way that fulfils the ISIS’ fantasies.”
Media outlets in Japan unanimously condemned the terror attacks, calling for a united anti-terrorism effort by the international community.
- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized that Japan will “closely cooperate with France and other members of the international community in striving to prevent acts of terrorism.”
- “The international community must be more firmly united in its renewed efforts to prevent barbarous acts by terrorist organizations,” the Yomiuri Shimbun argued, stressing a “pressing need to reconsider the security precautions taken for” the UN meeting on climate change scheduled at the end of this month in Paris.
- The Japan Times claimed that “A united front is the only solution” for the fight against terrorism. The fight “is a battle against extremism: a fight against those who behead civilians, would deny all rights – and in some cases are prepared to exterminate – those with different religious beliefs and who believe that there can be no coexistence with nonbelievers. This is indeed a war and we must be prepared for more such acts of horror.”
- The Nikkei Shimbun agreed, saying that “this is not a problem only for France.” As the IS has expanded its attacks beyond its territories in Iraq and Syria, the international community, including Japan, must take preventive measures against the trans-border networks of terrorism.
- The Asahi Shimbun observed that as the attacks highlighted the vulnerability of civilian facilities, or “soft targets,” “we are faced with a dilemma, whereby stepping up control over human mobility could erode the principles of a liberalist society.” “We should remain level-headed and steady in taking countermeasures without compromising the principles of freedom.”
- The Mainichi Shimbun expressed concerns that the Paris attacks will strengthen “calls to toughen regulations on refugees [from Syria] in order to prevent extremists from…gaining entry into Europe,” urging for “careful policies that will not interfere with humanitarian aid.”
Korean newspapers emphasized the need for the international community to prop up its fight against terrorism.
- International society must “form a united front…to deter ISIS’ violent challenge against the civilized world,” argued The Dong-A Ilbo. “Korea cannot afford to remain indifferent towards situations in France,” and the ruling and opposition parties must work together to legislate an anti-terrorism act.
- “U.S. President Barack Obama takes pride in keeping ISIS’s clandestine activities at bay. But the massacre in Paris shows he is wrong,” the JoongAng Ilbo claimed. “The terrorist group has already crossed the line. The United States, the champion of freedom and democracy over the past two centuries, needs to counter them more proactively than ever before, including the idea of sending ground troops to the troubled area.”
- The Korea Herald agreed, calling on world leaders to “translate their words into action” and unite the world in fighting terrorists whose “attacks are crimes against all of humanity, wherever they are perpetrated.”
- The Korea Times raised concerns that “the fight against IS appears to be developing into a clash of civilizations, or maybe even the Third World War,” and criticized “the lack of coordination among Western leaders” in the war on terror. It is important to “use the latest Paris attack for leading Western countries to set aside their differences and make this their collective top priority.”
Much like with the Charlie Hedbo attacks in January, the tenor of the response in Brazil was one of shock and solidarity with the victims of the attack.
- President Dilma Rousseff, in Turkey at a BRICS meeting, tweeted out a message Saturdaymorning: “Apalled by this act of barbarous terrorism. I want to express my repudiation of this violence and share my solidarity with the people and government of France.
- Brazil joined the other BRICS nations in supporting an international action to combat ISIS, with Dilma expressing that, “the atrocities require urgent action together with the entire international community to combat terrorism.”
- In Brazil, several commentators noted the effect the attacks would have on Brazil’s preparations to prepare for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next summer. The Minister of Justice elaborated that Rio already has a well-developed security plan, and expressed that the government is looking to further improve that by intensifying international cooperation before the Olympics. O Globo reported that these increased security measures could increase the security costs for the games by as much as 15 percent.
- In the newspaper, Estado de São Paulo, Eliane Cantanhêde took a more pessimistic view, noting that while Brazil is lucky to not be on the front lines of the war against ISIS, hosting the Olympics will strain Brazil’s ability to maintain security in this new reality, where even the most powerful countries in the world with can fall victim to terrorist attacks.