Even as China asserted on Thursday that the ‘Wuhan Spirit’ was still on, there is a sense of betrayal in New Delhi over Beijing’s decision to stand by its ‘all-weather friend’ Pakistan by blocking the designation of JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council.
The bonhomie witnessed between India and China over the last one year after the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan April last year has clearly evaporated following the Chinese action.
Amid the growing clamour in India for boycotting China after it used its veto power to block listing of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, New Delhi has expressed disappointment over Beijing’s move while reaffirming its determination to pursue all avenues to bring the JeM chief to justice for terror attacks in different parts of India.
A number of reasons, including the significant role Pakistan plays in China’s ties with the Islamic world and Beijing’s anxiety over spill-over effect of a ban on Azhar in China’s own restive Muslim-dominated Xinjiang region, could have played a role in Beijing deciding to yet again stonewall any action by the UNSC against the JeM chief, observers say.
Despite its burgeoning trade relationship with India, China has never hidden the fact that it needed Pakistan more than any other country for achieving its geo-strategic goals in the region. Pakistan’s importance for China has increased manifold in recent years in view of the heavy economic and manpower investments it has made in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as part of President Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Sources said it was quite clear to New Delhi over the past few days that China was adopting double standards in the global fight against terrorism only to shield Pakistan. China, they said, could no longer take shelter under ‘lame excuses’ like India had not provided any ‘updated material’ on Azhar’s terrorist activities in India which could compel Beijing to reconsider its position on the JeM chief.
Sources pointed out that India had submitted to China and other key nations ‘clinching and irrefutable’ evidence linking JeM to terror attacks in India, including the Pulwama attack. All other members of the UNSC, including those in the non-permanent category, solidly backed India’s effort to get the JeM chief banned but China put a spanner in their works yet again, they regretted.
The US, meanwhile, said responsible UNSC members might be forced to other actions at the Security Council if Beijing continued to block Masood’s designation.
China’s veto against banning Masood Azhar has once again highlighted the deep-rooted suspicion and mistrust between India and China on strategic issues, particularly the fight against terrorism. Despite pledging to work with India in combating terror, China has done precious little to assuage India’s concerns over terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
China has, in fact, praised Pakistan on many occasions for its role in the global war against terrorism. Beijing’s contention has been that Pakistan itself has been one of the main victims of terrorism and it must be supported in combating the menace.
There is also a feeling in Chinese circles that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is the prime reason for terrorism in India. The argument being advanced by them is that while Kashmir is a disputed territory, Xinjiang is a province of China and, therefore, a comparison can not be drawn between the two regions.