(TibetanReview.net, Oct12, 2016) – China has made it clear that it will not budge from its position of shielding Pakistan-based and supported terror mastermind Masood Azhar, leader of the UN-banned group Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), while accusing India, without naming the country, of seeking political gains in the name of counter-terrorism, said thehindu.com and other Indian online media reports Oct 10. On India’s pursuit of membership of the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), China, seen as the main obstacle, is said to have expressed readiness to continue its dialogue to “build consensus” with the other members and New Delhi, which, however, may be just another way of continuing its opposition without directly saying “no”.
Responding to a question on its Oct 1 decision to extend its stall by further three months on banning Masood Azhar by exercising a “technical hold” at the UN’s anti-terror committee, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong has said, “There should be no double standards on counter- terrorism. Nor should one pursue own political gains in the name of counter-terrorism.”
Nevertheless, Li has maintained that China was opposed to all forms of terrorism.
The report cited analysts as saying China’s decision on Masood Azhar was in part driven by its reliance on Pakistan to help counter armed separatists targeting Xinjiang (supposing they exist beyond China’s propaganda rhetoric), and to insure stability in Afghanistan, a country critical to Beijing’s One Belt One Road connectivity initiative. It said that on Aug 3, top military commanders from China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan met in Urumqi, capital of Chinese-ruled East Turkestan (Xinjiang province), to form a “Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism in Counter Terrorism”.
The report said Mr Li, during his briefing, underscored that counter-terrorism cooperation will be an important part of discussions during the BRICS Summit in Goa, India, over Oct 15-16. The question is how far India will go to corner China on Masood Azhar during discussion of counter-terrorism cooperation.
Li, on his part, has observed, “We hope and believe that this Goa summit will build on the past consensus and continue to strengthen cooperation in counter-terrorism and other issues of political security and contribute to world peace and security.”
On India’s strong push to join the NSG, seen as being thwarted by China’s staunch opposition, Li has made two points: China was ready to continue its dialogue with India in order to “build consensus” on the issue, and that India’s membership would have to be based on the consensus among all members of the 48-nation club. He has spoken of “procedures, norms and regulations of the NSG” to sidestep a question on whether Beijing foresaw any progress on the NSG issue during the meeting between Mr Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.
China has previously linked India’s entry to the NSG to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — a regime meant to stop proliferation or spread of atomic weapons – which New Delhi has refused to sign for being discriminatory. However, India is said to have pointed out to the Chinese side that NSG rules have not spelt out that NPT membership is necessary for the entry into the 48-country grouping. India is said to have further expressed the view that the NSG is not directly geared towards non-proliferation; rather, it is a mechanism for “export control” of nuclear technology, in which New Delhi has an “impeccable record”.