China on Friday dismissed allegations that it was sheltering terrorists by placing a “technical hold” on listing Masood Azhar, head of the banned Pakistan based-group Jaish-e-Mohammed, as a global terrorist.
Without naming any specific country, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said: “If certain country accuses China of sheltering by putting such technical hold, does that mean that all countries that put hold are sheltering terrorists? If this makes sense, shall we say that the country that puts the most holds is the biggest protector of terrorism?”
China has on four occasions placed a ‘technical hold’ on designating Azhar as a global terrorist. On March 13, it stood out as the only country in the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council to effectively block a resolution on banning Azhar, piloted by the U.S., France and Britain, following last month’s Pulwama terror attack.
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had slammed China’s policy towards Azhar as well as the “de-radicalisation” camps in Xinjiang. “China abuses more than a million Muslims at home, but on the other, it protects violent Islamic terrorist groups from sanctions at the UN,” he said.
In his riposte, Mr. Geng said China cannot be accused of placing maximum technical holds in the 1267 committee. “At the UN Security Council sanctions committee, the practice of putting technical holds in in line with the stipulations of the committee. It is not China that has put the most hold at the committee.”
China has emphasised that the purpose of its “technical hold” is to allow more discussion on the issue in order to achieve a consensus-based settlement. “China put a technical hold with a purpose to conduct a comprehensive and in-depth assessment so as to give enough time and space to dialogue and consultation between the parties.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Beijing has been staying “in close communication with all parties to seek a settlement through the dialogue. We hope all members of the Security Council will work towards that goal.”
China had earlier stated that is was engaged in “mediation efforts” between India and Pakistan to ease tensions between the two countries following the Pulwama attack, in which at last 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
In response to another question, Mr. Geng said he was not willing to share details about Beijing’s discussions with the “relevant parties”.
“We will always work in a constructive and responsible manner and stay in communication with relevant parties and seek a proper solution and it is improper for me to reveal to you the detailed discussions.”
He pointed out that China’s diplomatic conduct “is in line with the requirement of the Security Council and rules of procedures of the committee”.
On Thursday, Mr. Geng highlighted that “Xinjiang affairs are purely China’s internal affairs”.
“Xinjiang has taken preventive measures by setting up the vocational and educational training centres for counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation purposes,” he said referring to the camps in Xinjiang.