China’s recent decision to vote for a United Nations blacklist against a known Pakistani terrorist group was only made so as to pressure India into embracing its foreign investment policy, One Belt, One Road, according to a recent Indian media report.
Beijing’s sudden change in position on May 1, after roughly 10 years of objection, was a huge surprise, especially as China is Pakistan’s closest ally and often sides with the Southeast Asian country in international affairs.
Beijing launched the One Belt, One Road initiative (OBOR, also known as Belt and Road) in 2013, its flagship foreign-policy agenda to build up geopolitical influence via investments across Southeast Asia, African, Europe, and Latin America.
Beijing wants India to embrace the idea of joining the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor, an OBOR project, in exchange for China showing its support at the UN in early May via blacklisting Pakistani terrorist Masood Azhar, according to a May 6 article by Indian news site The Print, citing unnamed diplomatic sources.
Azhar is the head and founder of the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which seeks to annex the India-controlled region of Kashmir to Pakistan.
Most recently, JeM claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing in India-controlled Kashmir on Feb. 14, which resulted in the deaths of at least 40 Indian paramilitary police officers. Following the deadly attack, the United States, Britain, and France made a request before the U.N. Security Council to blacklist Azhar.
JeM was already blacklisted by the U.N. Security Council back in 2001.
In mid-March, China blocked the blacklist by being the only country out of 15 members to vote against it, according to India’s English-language daily newspaper The Economic Times. But this was not the first time Beijing has blocked the committee from sanctioning Azhar. Beijing has blocked previous attempts in 2009, 2016, and 2017.
But on May 1, China changed its mind and voted to blacklist Azhar, according to Reuters.
The blacklist subjects Azhar to an arms embargo, travel ban, and asset freeze.
A 2017 terrorism report by the U.S. Department of States called out both the Pakistani government and JeM.
“The [Pakistani] government failed to significantly limit…JeM from openly raising money, recruiting, and training in Pakistan,” the report stated.
The Print, citing anonymous sources, reported that Beijing has “intensified its lobbying in the matter” of India accepting the BCIM project since it made the U.N. decision, hoping that New Delhi could agree to it before Chinese leader Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit for a summit at the capital in July or August.
India has not joined China’s OBOR, and has boycotted both the 2017 and 2019 Belt and Road forum in Beijing. One of the reasons is that another OBOR corridor, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, runs through a part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which New Delhi considers its territory. [original from the May 6 article from The Print]
However, India has shown interest in BCIM. According to Indian media reports, following an informal summit in China between Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April last year, the two countries agreed to move forward with BCIM. However, the project has not broke ground yet.
According to China’s state-run media, the BCIM will include a 2,800-kilometer (about 1,740 miles) railway, linking Kunming, the capital of southern China’s Yunnan Province; Mandalay, a city in southern Myanmar; Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka; and Kolkata, the capital of India’s West Bengal State.
Speaking to The Print, an unnamed Indian official said that India is “not keen” to accept BCIM under Beijing’s OBOR initiative because doing so “may compromise the country’s security arrangement in the northeastern region.”
Srikanth Kondapalli, professor of Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, explained why to The Print: “India is concerned that China supports the insurgents that are present in the northeastern states and hence the BCIM is not a feasible idea.”