A day after the ghastly Pulwama terror attack, China finally broke its radio silence on Friday. Beijing condemned the terror strike a day after it left the entire global community in shock, many of who called for justice.
But when it did, China chose to remain non-committal on Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, the real author of the Pulwama suicide attack.
“China has noted the reports of suicide terrorist attack. We are deeply shocked by this attack. We express deep condolences and sympathy to the injured and bereaved families,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing in Beijing.
“We firmly oppose and strongly condemn all forms of terrorism. We hope relevant regional countries will cooperate to cope with the threat of terrorism and jointly uphold regional peace and stability.”
But Geng declined to back India’s appeal that Azhar be designated a global terrorist by the United Nations.
“As for the issue of listing, I could tell you that the 1267 Committee of Security Council has a clear stipulation on the listing and procedure of the terrorist organisations,” he said. “The JeM has been included in the Security Council terrorism sanctions list. China will continue to handle the relevant sanctions issue in a constructive and responsible manner,” he added.
China’s stance on the Jaish chief remains as it was over the past one year.
Beijing vetoed the United States push for Masood Azhar’s sanctions listing by the United Nations Security Council in 2018.
CHINA-PAKISTAN WARM TIES
The brotherly warmth between Pakistan and China has only got stronger over the years.
Deep in a fiscal crisis, Islamabad relies heavily on China for infrastructure support and weaponry.
CHINA BETS ON PAKISTAN
Beijing has pledged around $62 billion of investment to build the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as part of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The project runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, a hub of anti-India terror. According to observers, the CPEC is China’s big bet on Pakistan, not just economic, but also strategic reasons.
The CPEC linking Xinjiang in China and the Gwadar port in Pakistan via PoK envisions ports, dams, power stations, road, railway and optic fibre networks.
China also seeks to develop a transit route through Pakistan for energy imports from the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
China, observers say, is clear about its priorities — strategic and economic ties with its ally, Pakistan.
Backing India, another Asian military and economic giant, for its proposed action against terror masterminds like Masood Azhar does not figure in Beijing’s scheme of things, experts say.
Safety of Chinese workers in the terror hotbed of PoK could also be a concern, observers add.