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China Defends Stand on Masood Azhar Amid Global Outrage, Says Needs More Time for In-depth Probe

On its impact on Sino-India ties, Lu says China is 'full of sincerity' and is ready to work with India to build on the consensus of the leaders.

News18.com

Updated:March 14, 2019, 2:03 PM IST
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China Defends Stand on Masood Azhar Amid Global Outrage, Says Needs More Time for In-depth Probe
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In its first official statement after facing global ire for blocking the UNSC move against Masood Azhar, China said it needs more time to conduct a “thorough, in-depth investigation on the matter of listing Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist”.

The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, the UK and the US on February 27, days after a suicide bomber of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama, leading to a flare-up in tensions between India and Pakistan. The Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee members had 10 working days to raise any objections to the proposal. Just before the deadline ended, China put a "technical hold" on the proposal seeking "more time to examine" it.

The proposal was the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist.

Asked why China once again resorted to block the move, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here that Beijing's decision is in line with the rules of the committee. "China sincerely hopes that relevant action taken by this committee will help relevant countries to engage in dialogue and consultation and prevent adding more complicated factors into regional peace and stability," he said.

"As to the technical hold at the 1267 Committee, our action is to make sure that the committee will have enough time to study the matter so that the relevant sides will have time for dialogue and consultation," Lu said. "Only a solution that is acceptable to all sides could fundamentally provide a chance for a lasting solution to the issue. China is ready to communicate and coordinate with all sides including India to properly handle this issue," he said.

India has expressed disappointment over China's move but said it will "pursue all available avenues" to bring to justice terrorist leaders involved in the attack on Indians.

To another question on the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping last year to improve the bilateral relations, Lu said, "Xi and Modi met four times. Particularly Wuhan summit made great progress. China is full of sincerity and ready to work with India to build on the consensus of our leaders for greater progress in the bilateral relations."

On the Kashmir issue, Lu said China's position on it is clear and consistent. "This is an issue that is left over between India and Pakistan. We hope that the two sides will engage in friendly dialogue consultation and solve this issue and other related issues," he said.

Several American think-tank members slammed China for its decision delaying the Azhar listing. "Today, China doubled down on a very bad bet. It blocked yet another round of UN sanctions on Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar weeks after the group claimed credit for the deadliest terror attack in Kashmir," Jeff Smith from the Heritage Foundation said.

"This one won't be undone by another romantic stroll through Wuhan," he added, indicating that such a move by Beijing would only escalate the tension between India and China.

The issue also turned into a political slugfest, with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of going soft on China. Gandhi said a “weak” Modi was scared of Xi Jinping and “not a word comes out of his mouth when China acts against India”.

Reacting to the charges, the BJP asked how Congress could still speak a different tone even in case of a cruel killer and global terrorist like Azhar. Adding that he needed to learn that foreign policy was not run on Twitter, Prasad said Gandhi must look at his party’s history vis-à-vis China.

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