‘Kashmir bilateral’: China climbs down ahead of Xi's visit

TNN Bureau. Updated: 10/9/2019 9:23:45 AM Front Page

BEIJING: Ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India for an informal summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Beijing on Tuesday moderated its stand on Kashmir, saying the issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan through dialogue and consultation, significantly omitting its recent references to the UN and UN Security Council resolutions.
The statement came on the day Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan reached China for talks with Xi Jinping.
When asked about Khan's visit to Beijing ahead of Xi's trip to India and whether the Kashmir issue will figure in his talks with the Chinese leaders, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that China's stand is that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan.
"China's position on Kashmir issue is clear and consistent. We call on India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue and consultation on all issues including Kashmir issue and consolidate mutual trust. This is in line with the interest of both countries and common aspiration of the world," he said.
China refrained from mentioning the UN Security Council resolution and UN charter, as it had done earlier in its statements on Kashmir, including at the UN General Assembly last month.
Geng’s comments marked a significant shift on what China has been saying on Kashmir in recent weeks in the aftermath of India's move to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution removing the special status to Kashmir.
In its first reaction on August 6, the Chinese foreign ministry issued two separate statements.
In one statement, China also expressed its opposition to India's move to create a separate Union Territory of Ladakh highlighting Beijing's territorial claims in the area.
The second statement said, "we call on both India and Pakistan to peacefully resolve the relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and safeguard peace and stability in the region".
But, China added UN and UNSC resolutions on Kashmir when Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Beijing few days later and met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
"It (Kashmir issue) should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreement," Wang had said.
A closed-door meeting of the UNSC on Kashmir where China maintained the same stand ended without any outcome or statement, in a snub to Beijing and Islamabad.
Later, Wang in his UN General Assembly speech mentioned the same which drew protests from India.
Geng's comments on Tuesday marks China's return to its original stand that Kashmir issue should be resolved bilaterally.
Observers say it is significant shift ahead of Xi's visit to India for his 2nd informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Both India and China are major developing countries of the world and major emerging markets, Geng said.
"Since the Wuhan informal summit (last year), our bilateral relations have gathered good momentum," he said.
"We have been advancing our cooperation and properly managing our differences. We have a tradition of high level exchange and our two sides are maintaining communication on high level exchange in the next phase. We should make good atmosphere and environment for this," he said.
The moderation in the Chinese position comes as Imran Khan and Pak Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa are in Beijing, to further cement the close ties between China and Pakistan.
China has yet to officially announce President Xi's visit to India for the informal summit with Modi in the seaside town of Mahabalipuram, in Tamil Nadu state, which has been spruced up to host the two leaders.

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