A diplomatically awkward China failed to commiserate when Pakistan-based militants carried out the Mumbai attacks in 2008, a top Chinese academic has said, indicating Beijing was left fumbling for a reaction against the strike that was condemned worldwide and carried out by nationals based in a country Beijing considers an all-weather ally.
China’s diplomacy is maturing and learning how to balance and find a way around its core value of non-interfering in another country’s affairs, Hu Shisheng, South Asia expert at the prestigious and government-affiliated China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) told Indian journalists.
Hu was answering questions on China’s stand on the involvement of Pakistani nationals in terror attacks; specifically, he was asked to react to the recent release of the Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, a prime accused in the case.
“China also feels quite awkward. It does not mean China is sympathising with terrorist attacks. It is awkward diplomatically,” Hu said.
“Chinese diplomats are getting more mature. The challenge is (in China’s core foreign policy parameter of) non-interference,” he said.
“India's concerns over terrorism will be addressed in a more constructive way,” Hu said adding that Pakistan was sincere in its fight against terrorism as the country was a victim as well.
After pumping in billions of dollars into Pakistan in infrastructure projects including a much-publicised economic corridor, China would want its ally to be serious in tackling terrorism.
“Pakistan also suffers from that (terrorism),” Hu said, adding that China was equally serious in tackling the issue because Beijing wants the Sino-Pakistan economic corridor to be successful.
The corridor connects Kashgar in China’s remote and restive Xinjiang province to Gwadar in Pakistan’s Balochistan.
“China cannot afford to make it a failure. The (Nawaz) Sharif government wants it. The (Pakistan) army wants it. The Pakistan side has set up an exclusive ‘special security division’ of around 3000 personnel for the corridor’s safety,” Hu said.
Hu was meeting Indian journalists in the run-up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming China visit in May.
Talking about the visit, Hu said strong governments were better at addressing “ticklish issues”.
“The two governments are thinking in terms of making breakthroughs on the border question in the coming five years to 10 years. This (Xi’s government) wants to make full use of Modi’s strong government in addressing ticklish issues,” Hu said.