India-China talks next week, Beijing says no ‘solid evidence’ against Azhar
New Delhi hasn’t provided “solid evidence” against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar for Beijing to support the move to sanction him at the UN, China said on Friday ahead of a strategic dialogue between the two countries.
The issue of China repeatedly blocking India’s move to ban Azhar under the UN Security Council’s 1267 committee is expected to feature in the talks to be held in Beijing on February 22. China’s executive vice-foreign minister Zhang Yesui and Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar will hold the strategic dialogue.
Besides Azhar, the issue of India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will also come up at the dialogue.
Referring to the issue of Azhar, foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Friday that China’s position had been “consistent”. China’s stance, he said, is based on impartiality and the “merits of the case”.
“China upholds principles of objectivity, impartiality and professionalism and takes part in relevant discussions. Whether last year’s application by India (against Azhar) or this year’s by relevant country, our position is consistent,” Geng said.
“Our criteria is only one - we need solid evidence. If there is solid evidence the application can be moved. If there is no solid evidence, there is hardly consensus,” he added.
“On 1267, the latest development is relevant countries have made another application with the committee. Relevant members of the committee are in consultation and relevant parties have failed to reach consensus so far,” Geng reiterated.
China‘s position on the issue of listing Azhar “is not proceeding from China-India relations but from the merit of matter”, he said.
Earlier this month, China blocked a US-sponsored move for the listing Azhar after blocking India’s application three times last year. At the time, China said there was no consensus among members of the 1267 committee and conditions had not been met to include Pakistan-based Azhar in the list of UN-designated terrorists.
China’s stand on India’s bid to join the NSG isn’t changing either, Geng said.
“We have said many times this is a multilateral issue. We stick to two-step approach namely - NSG members need to arrive at a set of principles for the entry of NSG by non-NPT state parties, and then move forward discussions of specific cases,” he said.
“Our position is consistent. Apart from India, other non-NPT state parties are also making applications. Our position on those applications is consistent,” he said.
“Whether 1267 or the NSG issue, they are in essence multilateral issues not bilateral issues.”
Geng said China hopes that India can understand its “attitude and position” on the two matters. “China and India are the two largest developing counties. We have wide converging interests,” he said.
China-India cooperation energises the region and the developing world, and can contribute to “our solidarity”, he added.
Geng said the strategic dialogue will be a platform to manage differences.
“Differences are only natural. Through all kinds of conversation and exchanges, including the strategic dialogue, two sides can step up communication to narrow differences and reach new consensus on achieving cooperation,” he said.