BEIJING, Nov. 25 (Reuters) – China called for more coordination in the fight against terrorism on Wednesday after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border, one of the most serious clashes between a NATO member country and Russia for half a century.
Moscow’s decision to launch separate air strikes in Syria means Russian and NATO planes have been flying combat missions in the same air space for the first time since World War Two, targeting various insurgent groups close to the Turkish border.
Russia said the plane had been attacked when it was 1 km (0.62 mile) inside Syria and warned of “serious consequences”, though Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said the jet had been fired at while in Turkish air space but had crashed inside Syria.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China was paying close attention to the incident and that many circumstances “needed further clarification”.
“China supports the international fight against terrorism, and we hope all sides strengthen their communication and coordination,” Hong told a regular press briefing.
While relying on the region for oil supplies, China tends to leave Middle Eastern diplomacy to the other five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, namely the United States, Britain, France and Russia.
However, China has long said there is no military solution to Syria’s problems and has criticised the West and Russia for bombing campaigns there.
The incident appeared to scupper hopes of a rapprochement between Russia and the West in the wake of the Daesh attacks in Paris, which had led to calls for a united front against the jihadist group in Syria.
A U.S. official said U.S. forces were not involved in the downing of the Russian jet, which was the first time a Russian or Soviet military aircraft has been publicly acknowledged to have been shot down by a NATO member since the 1950s.