Give us ‘solid evidence’ and will back Masood Azhar ban, says China ahead of talks with India


Beijing: China on Friday asked India to provide “solid evidence” to back efforts to get JeM chief Masood Azhar banned by the UN, as both sides prepare for a “strategic dialogue” later next month in the Chinese capital.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will represent India at the Feb 22 meeting while the Chinese side will be led by Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui.

Both sides will have an in-depth discussion on regional and global issues of mutual interest in the strategic dialogue, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press briefing here.

Commenting on reports of “friction points” in the bilateral relationship, including the Masood Azhar issue and India’s admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Geng said “differences are only natural”.

“Through all kinds of conversation and exchanges, including (the) upcoming Strategic Dialogue, (the) two sides can step up communication to narrow differences and reach new consensus on achieving cooperation,” he said.

On the issue of Masood Azhar, over which China has put a technical hold on the recent US move to list the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief as a terrorist in the 1267 committee of the UN Security Council, Geng said China will support the move if there is solid evidence.

“China upholds principles of objectivity, impartiality and professionalism and takes part in relevant discussions. Whether last year’s application by India or this year’s by (the) 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 approved. If there is no solid evidence there is hardly consensus,” he said.

Stating that China has reiterated its stand several times, Geng said, “On (the) 1267 committee, 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.”

Early this month, the United States had moved a proposal in the UN to designate Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. However, that move was impeded by China.

The American proposal came barely weeks after India’s efforts to get Azhar banned by the UN were blocked by China in December last.

According to senior government sources, the US, supported by the UK and France, moved the proposal at the UN’s Sanctions Committee 1267 in the second-half of December to proscribe Azhar.

The proposal, which was finalised after “consultations” between Washington and New Delhi, said JeM is a designated terror outfit and so its leaders cannot go scot-free, sources said.

“However, China opposed the US move by putting a hold on the proposal,” a source said, adding the Chinese action came just before the expiry of the 10-day deadline for any proposal to be adopted or blocked or to be put on hold.

The “hold” remains for six months and can be further extended by three months. During this period, it can be anytime converted into a “block”, thereby, ending the life of the proposal.

UN Sanction Committee’s listing would have forced imposition of asset freeze and travel ban on Azhar by countries, including Pakistan.

China has been constantly opposing efforts to get Azhar banned by the UN, which has proscribed his outfit JeM in 2001.

The Chinese opposition is also seen by many in India as an action taken at the behest of its “all-weather ally” Pakistan.

After the attack on the IAF base at Pathankot in January last year, India in February wrote to the UN calling for immediate action to list Azhar under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

The efforts faced stiff opposition by China, which twice put a “technical hold” before finally blocking the Indian proposal in December.

(With agency inputs)