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China concerned about tension, asks India, Pakistan to be restrained

world Updated: Sep 30, 2016 17:08 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

File photo of Chinese and Pakistan troops at the launch of their first joint patrolling of the border connecting PoK with Xinjiang province. (PTI)

China on Friday expressed concern about the tension between India and Pakistan and urged both sides to exercise restraint against the backdrop of the unexpected Indian strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.

India and Pakistan should pull back from any action that could escalate tension in the region, China said. 

“As shared neighbour and friend to both India and Pakistan, we are concerned about continuous confrontation and tensions between India and Pakistan. We call on all relevant parties to exercise restraint and refrain from actions that would escalate tension,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing. 

“We hope that both parties would properly address their differences though dialogue and consultation and de-escalate tensions as soon as possible,” Geng said when he was asked to comment on the surgical strikes that Indian carried out on Thursday, inflicting significant casualties on terror groups. 

China has been in contact with India and Pakistan since tensions escalated in region, Geng said, indicating that channels of communication had been open since the round of violence began in July. 

“Since there have been tensions between India and Pakistan, China has been in communication with both the countries to exercise restraint, enhance communication and properly resolve differences,” he said. “We will continue to work on the two sides for peace talks based on the development of the situation.”

China’s restrained reaction to the surgical strikes might not be unexpected but could make its “all-weather ally” Pakistan just a bit uneasy. 

Islamabad would have probably wanted Beijing to be more vocal about India‘s assertion that its troops crossed the de-facto border and carried out operations. But then again, Pakistan has denied the strikes took place. 

China’s reaction to the strikes came two days after Pakistan dispatched two special envoys on Kashmir to Beijing to drum up support for its position. 

On Thursday, before the news of the surgical strikes broke, Geng had said: “As for the tension between Pakistan and India, recently Chinese side has been in communication with both sides through different channels.” 

An article published on Friday in the nationalistic Global Times tabloid, titled “Asia arms imports on the rise as India buys new jets”, was an indication that government and strategic circles in China - even if they were surprised at the Indian operations - are keeping a close watch on developments in the region, especially the escalating tension. 

China’s only border, if it can be called that, with Pakistan is along Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which is claimed by India. 

China has repeatedly said it has “concerns” about the security of the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through PoK but has always added it is confident Pakistan will ensure the safety of the project and its personnel.