China calls article 370 move illegal; keep out of our internal affairs, says MEA
The government on Wednesday tersely asked Beijing to keep out of the internal affairs of other countries after China contended that India’s “unilateral” changes to the status of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir were illegal and invalid.
As the Pakistan government observed Yaum-e-Istehsal, or a “day of exploitation”, to protest India’s decision last year to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split it into two union territories, Beijing called on New Delhi and Islamabad to resolve the dispute over Kashmir through dialogue and consultations.
India’s decision on August 5, 2019, had triggered a strong response from China, mainly because it believed the move would affect its territorial claims in Ladakh region.
Responding to a query from Pakistan’s state-run APP news agency about the impact of India’s move, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular news briefing that Beijing is closely following the situation in Kashmir.
He said: “Any unilateral change to the status quo is illegal and invalid. This issue should be properly resolved peacefully through dialogue and consultations between the parties concerned.”
China’s position on the Kashmir issue, Wang said, is “clear and consistent”. He added: “This issue is a dispute leftover from history between Pakistan and India. That is an objective fact as laid out by the UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions and the bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India.”
External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava responded to Wang’s remarks though a brief statement: “We have noted the comments of the Chinese MFA spokesperson on the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The Chinese side has no locus standi whatsoever on this matter and is advised not to comment on the internal affairs of other nations.”
Wednesday’s developments also came against the backdrop of the months-long India-China border standoff in Ladakh, which has taken bilateral relations to a new low. India has accused China of failing to deliver on commitments to withdraw its troops from friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and asked it to sincerely implement measures for disengagement and de-escalation.
Wang described Pakistan and India as neighbours who “cannot be moved away”. He said China hopes the two sides can properly handle differences through dialogue, improve relations and jointly safeguard peace, security and development of both countries and the wider region.
“Coexistence serves the fundamental interests of both and the common aspiration of the international community,” Wang added.
Pakistan on Tuesday released a new “political map” in which it claimed all of Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh and parts of Gujarat – a move that India described as “an exercise in political absurdity”.
In August last year, China had described the move to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status as “unacceptable”, and urged India to respect Chinese territorial sovereignty and uphold peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
China had referred to the disputed territory of Aksai Chin, which China controls but India claims as part of the new union territory of Ladakh.
India had then rejected China’s criticism, saying the proposal to form new union territories was an “internal matter” that had no implications for the country’s external borders. New Delhi also pointed out that India and China had agreed to maintain peace along their disputed border until a mutually acceptable solution is found.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar, during a visit to Beijing last August, explained India’s position, saying the change in administrative status of the region wouldn’t impact the LAC.