China signals reluctance to shift stance on Azhar ahead of crucial UN meeting

China on Monday gave no indication that it is likely to change its stand on Masood Azhar in the UN committee that meets on Wednesday to vote on designating head of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group as an international terrorist.

In response to a question on Beijing’s position in the upcoming March 13 meeting of the UN Security Council’s 1267 committee, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang stuck to the position that the security council, as the “main body” of the UN system does not take its decisions superficially. “First I would like to say that the UNSC as a main body of the UN has strict standards and rules of procedures,” Mr. Lu said. He also signaled that that the die had not been cast on Azhar’s designation, just yet. “Some reports have knowledge of inside information the UNSC. I don’t know that can be counted as evidence,” Mr. Lu observed.

China has on three occasions placed a “technical hold” on Azhar’s designation as a global terrorist in the 1267 committee. Yet another attempt on the J-e-M chief’s designation, led by the United States, France and Britain has begun following the February 14 Pulwama attack in which more than 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

On Saturday, India urged UNSC members to label Azhar as a global terrorist, pointing out that all the members of the group were aware of J-e-M training camps and the presence of Azhar in Pakistan.

Mr. Lu hinted that China favoured detailed deliberations on the issue of designation. “Only decisions made through responsible and serious discussions are the way to solve problems sustainably, “he observed.

“We have repeatedly emphasised China’s position on the 1267 Committee of the Security Council on the issue of terrorist organisations and individuals. China has always participated in relevant discussions in a responsible manner and in strict accordance with the principles, regulations and procedures of the 1267 Committee,” Mr. Lu said.

“ China will continue to communicate and coordinate with relevant parties in a responsible manner and properly handle this issue.”

The Chinese foreign ministry reiterated on Monday that Beijing was involved in “mediation” to ease tensions between India and Pakistan.

It also took credit for dialing down tensions between the two nuclear armed states in the subcontinent. “I have introduced here that China has used its mediation between India and Pakistan to make a lot of efforts to promote dialogue, work hard to cool the situation and promote the improvement of relations between the two sides,” Mr. Lu said.

“In the process of exchanging views with India and Pakistan on the situation in the region, security is an important issue. We have conducted extensive and in-depth communication with both parties.”

On Friday China’s state councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi, for the first time had affirmed that Beijing was engaged in “mediation efforts” to ease tensions between India and Pakistan, following the Pulwama attack.

Mr. Wang’s remarks followed the visit to Pakistan by Chinese vice foreign minister, Kong Xuanyou, amid speculation that the senior Chinese diplomat also intended to visit India.

Analysts say that China has taken an unusually high profile in lowering tensions between India and Pakistan, despite the risks involved, in case its diplomatic activism fizzles. In a conversation with The Hindu, Liu Zongyi, senior fellow of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said that “at least since the Kargil conflict of 1999, China would not like India to think that China favours Pakistan. We would therefore like to adopt some measures to ease your bilateral relations”.


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