The assassination of Qassem Soleimani and the growing tension between Iran and the United States, as seen from Beijing
On January 3, 2020 Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, commander of Iraq's Shia Hashd al-Shaabiwas (Popular Mobilization Committee) were killed by a US drone strike in Iraq. The assassination took place in the aftermath of a series of events that had already made the relations between Iran and the United States extremely tense. On December 27, an American defense contractor was killed in a rocket attack on the Iraqi military base in Kirkuk launched by Kataib Hezbollah (KH), an Iranian-backed Shia militia group. As a result, the United States carried out a series of retaliatory airstrikes against KH in Syria and Iraq, targeting weapons storage facilities and bases used to plan attacks on coalition forces, killing 25 people. In response to the airstrikes, protesters stormed the US embassy in Baghdad on 31 December. In retaliation for the Iranian top general’s assassination, on 8 January more than a dozen missiles were launched by Iran against Iraqi bases hosting US and coalition troops. Based on a review of Chinese media and academic articles, this analysis explores how Chinese commentators and analysts have framed the causes and consequences of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.