India can increase its "military pressure" on Pakistan using the alibi of "counterterrorism crusade" that may bring "other players" in the region, China's official media warned on Thursday, justifying Beijing's latest block on a proposed UN ban on JeM chief Massood Azhar.
"India has its own reasons to have listed Azhar as terrorist. However, observers are also worried that under the defence of counterterrorism crusade, India can increase its military pressure on Pakistan, thus risking escalating tensions between the two countries," state-run Global Times said in an editorial.
It comes just a day after China defended its decision to block the US' proposal in the UN for designating Pathankot attack mastermind and JeM chief Azhar as a global terrorist, saying the "conditions" have not yet been met for Beijing to back the move.
"The India-Pakistan has been a thorny issue in South Asia for a long time and China is caught in the middle, given geographic and geopolitical proximity to the two," it said without mentioning China's all weather ties with Pakistan.
"The failure to bring the two on the path to peace underscores their different domestic and diplomatic trajectories. Any action the UN takes should assist the peace process rather than escalating tensions between the two countries," the editorial said.
Interestingly, the editorial can only be read in the print edition as internet link to it was blocked.
Projecting an enlarged role for Beijing in the tensions between India and Pakistan, it said "as a responsible power China must help maintain regional order".
It said China is aware that terrorism is a burning issue.
"China has also set up anti-terror mechanism with India but regional peace and stability will always be a priority," it said.
"Any India-Pakistan confrontation may bring other players into the region, which would complicate the situation," it said without naming "other players".
Significantly for China, the resolution to ban Azhar in the Al-Qaeda related 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council was moved this time by the US and backed by other UNSC permanent members like UK and France unlike last year when India moved the application which was backed by all members except China.
However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang yesterday while defending China's technical hold, played down US move to directly moving the resolution for the ban on Azhar.