China calls India 'important neighbour', but fails to budge on Azhar

03 November 2017

China on Friday said it was ready to promote bilateral ties with ''important neighbour'' India, a day after it again rejected a United Nations resolution to sanction Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as an international terrorist.

''India is an important neighbour of China. China attaches great importance to relations with India. We are ready to work with India to promote constant progress of bilateral relations guided by neighbourhood diplomacy with Chinese characteristics for a new era,'' said assistant foreign minister Chen Xiadong, referring to principles enunciated by President Xi Jinping during the recently concluded congress of the Communist Party of China.

China on Thursday for the fourth time blocked attempts by India, backed by the US and other nations, to list Pathankot terror attack mastermind Azhar as a global terrorist, saying "there is no consensus" within the members of the sanctions committee.

India reacted sharply to this, saying "accommodating with terrorism" for narrow objectives was both short-sighted and counterproductive.

Chen, speaking on China's policy with its neighbours at a press meet on President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to Vietnam for the APEC summit, claimed that Beijing has always stressed on a policy that focuses on the principles of ''sincerity, amity, inclusiveness and mutual benefit''.

''We have been following this concept (of building partnerships with neighbours) for the last few years, deepening our political mutual trust,'' he said, adding that this was ''the guiding principle'' for Beijing.

On Thursday, Beijing had cited ''lack of consensus'' among United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members on sanctioning Azhar under a US-backed resolution. Signalling its intention to block the resolution, the ministry of foreign affairs said, ''It is a fact that the (UN) committee is yet to reach an agreement (on the move).''

China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UNSC, has repeatedly blocked moves to sanction Azhar under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee (the 1267 committee) in the last one year. Beijing flatly denies that its close ties with Pakistan is the reason for blocking the move, stating that it has more to do with the process of collecting ''solid evidence'' against the alleged terrorist.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying insisted that China always upholds the ''principle of objectivity and fairness''.

''We judge the matter on its own merit. Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism, and we support it in countering terrorism in accordance with its own national conditions,'' she said.

Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar expressed regret at the Chinese move. ''We are deeply disappointed that once again, a single country has blocked international consensus on the designation of Masood Azhar, an acknowledged terrorist and leader of a UN-designated terrorist organisation,'' he said in a statement, without naming China.

Kumar said double standards and selective approaches would undermine the international community's resolve to combat terrorism. ''We can only hope that there will be a realisation that accommodating terrorism for narrow objectives is both short-sighted and counter-productive,'' he contended.

Last year in March, China was the only member in the 15-nation UNSC to put a hold on India's application, with all other 14 members of the Council supporting New Delhi's bid to place Azhar on the 1267 sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban.

The relations between the two neighbours were also strained by a 73-day standoff at Dokalam over Chinese army's plans to build a strategic road in the area also claimed by Bhutan.

Officials in Beijing said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will travel to India next month to attend the Russia, India, China (RIC) foreign ministers' meeting, during which he would also hold talks with the Indian leadership on the bilateral relations during the second term of Xi.

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