China on Wednesday said there was no consensus among countries and conditions had not been met to include the Pakistan-based terror suspect Masood Azhar in a list of UN-designated terrorists after Beijing blocked an US-sponsored move to do so.
In defending the move, Beijing brushed aside India’s outrage that the alleged Pathankot attack mastermind had again slipped through the net of international sanctions.
In the same breath, a Chinese official said he hoped that the decision would not affect India-China bilateral ties.
This wasn’t the first time that China came between Azhar and India, which many say is a result of Beijing’s all-weather friendship with Pakistan.
But its defence of the move continues to be similar as before.
“Last year, 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council discussed the issue regarding listing Masood (Azhar) in the sanctions list. There were different views with no consensus reached," Lu Kang, ministry of foreign affairs spokespersons said.
“As for the submission once again by relevant countries to list him in the sanctions list, I would say the conditions are not yet met for the Committee to reach a decision,” he said.
“China has put the request on technical hold, to allow the relevant parties more time to consult with each other. This is also in line with rules of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the rules of the discussion of the Committee,” he said.
The proposal against Azhar said Jaish e Mohammed (JeM) was a designated terror group and its leaders could not go scot-free.
“China opposed the US move by putting a hold on the proposal just before the expiry of the 10-day deadline for any proposal to be adopted or blocked or to be put on hold,” an official in New Delhi told HT on Tuesday.
“Our views on Masood Azhar and Jaish-e-Mohammed are well known. JeM has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and is a threat to regional stability,” an US state department official told HT in Washington.
China clearly – some would say determinedly – is not convinced. And, it didn’t really matter if it was an US-sponsored move this time.
“So, whoever submitted the request we believe all the members of the committee will act in line with regulations of the Security Council and its affiliations,” he said.
Lu said to include Azhar in the list was not a “matter of length time” but a “matter of whether consensus can be reached on the basis of full consultation,” refusing to indicate whether China would change its decision in the future.
Lu said Beijing and New Delhi “have exchanged views" on the issue. “We don’t hope it will have a negative impact on our relationship”.
On criticism that China is continuously blocking the move at the behest of Pakistan, Lu said: “Chinas action in the Security Council and its affiliations are in line with the regulations and procedures.”
“We put out technical hold after we had several rounds of consultations with India. We hope relevant parties have enough time to consult with each other to make sure that the decision made by the Committee will be based on consensus representing the broad international community,” he said.