China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday reminded citizens to avoid going to danger zones such as Syria, following reports that a young Chinese man had traveled there to fight with a Kurdish group against Islamic State.
Pan Yang, from a farming family from a mountainous area in the southern province of Sichuan, went to Syria around September and ended up fighting with a Kurdish militia, media reports have said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the ministry had seen the reports but she had no knowledge of his situation.
“I would like to say that the foreign ministry has repeatedly put up safety warnings on its consular services websites, reminding Chinese citizens to avoid heading to Syria and other high-risk areas,” she told a daily news briefing.
“We hope that Chinese citizens can closely pay attention to these safety warnings and the safety situation of the areas they are visiting and avoid going to high-risk areas, so as to ensure their personal safety.”
China says some Uighurs, a mainly Muslim people from its violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang, have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight with militant groups there.
Last month, Islamic State said it had killed a Chinese hostage, prompting outrage in Beijing.
In Pan’s case, his elderly parents had no idea where Syria is, nor what Islamic State is, his sister, Pan Xiaolan, told the newspaper, expressing worry for his safety.
“Come home quickly,” the paper quoted her as saying.
Pan Yang told the BBC’s Chinese language site last week that he was fighting with a Kurdish militia called the People’s Protection Units, or YPG.
Pan wrote on his Weibo account late on Wednesday he regretted talking to the BBC, saying it could cause Islamic State to target Chinese people in the Middle East.
“I think I’ve done a really stupid thing,” he wrote.
“If I live or die matters not,” Pan said, adding that Islamic State also watched the BBC.
“There are lots of compatriots in Iraq and the Middle East. I don’t want revenge carried out against them because of me. I’m sorry. My head really hurts. I don’t want to see innocent people hurt because of me.”
Pan’s Weibo account also features pictures of him holding weapons, including rocket launchers.