The killing of a Chinese citizen by Islamic State has shone the spotlight on China's paucity of options when its people are kidnapped abroad, despite its growing military prowess and international profile.
With its forces untried abroad and its diplomatic influence limited in the Middle East, it is handicapped when faced with cases like Fan aJinghui, whose killing militants announced this week.
China has previously obtained the release of workers kidnapped in places like Pakistan and Africa, though diplomats say it is often by paying ransoms.
On social media, some users urged a more combative response.
"China should have sent troops and joined the international coalition against IS to take real steps to fight terrorism," wrote one person on Weibo, China's answer to Twitter.