Chinese envoy denies blocking UN proposal to ban Masood Azhar

China has repeatedly stonewalled attempts by other UN Security Council members to designate Masood Azhar a terrorist. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Beijing, China Feb 22, 2017, 02.37 PM (IST)

The Chinese Consul General in India's eastern Kolkata city, Ma Zhanwu, said on Wednesday (February 22) that Beijing's reported move to block a proposal at the United Nations to ban Pakistani militant chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, was 'not the case.'

India has accused Azhar and his Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) outfit, which is already blacklisted, of masterminding attacks on its air base in 2016 and its parliament in 2001.

Zhanwu said if Azhar's name is delinked from the Pakistani government or from its military, then China might reconsider its stance.

"If you say he (Masood Azhar) is supported by Pakistani government, by the Pakistani military, then we have a strong reservation. If you remove that kind of saying, that sentence, then we have no problem. So we encourage India and Pakistan to have negotiations to sort out this problem. And that is why, in a way, it appeared to be that China was blocking the listing but actually it was not the case," said Zhanwu, while addressing media persons at a Merchants' Chamber of Commerce (MCC) session.

Earlier, India hit out at China for demanding "solid evidence" for getting Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar banned by the UN, saying the extent of his actions were "well-documented" and the "burden of proof" was not upon India.

"The extent of JeM chief Masood Azhar's actions are well documented and the burden of proof is not on India," foreign secretary S Jaishankar said about China's demand for "solid evidence" to designate Masood Azhar an international terrorist.

Jaishankar, who addressed the press after the India-China Strategic Dialogue in Beijing, said besides India, other countries were also pursuing the UN 1267 Committee sanctions against Masood Azhar.

"On 1267 Committee sanctions on Masood Azhar, we pointed out that this was being pursued by other countries, not by India alone. Other countries pressing this application showed there was broad international support for this and concerns about Azhar’s activities, he said.

India has long accused its neighbour Pakistan of using Jaish-e-Mohammad as a proxy to mount attacks on Indian soil, including in the disputed Kashmir region, and earlier gave what it called "actionable intelligence" to Pakistan, including telephone intercepts.

 If Azhar was blacklisted by the UN Security Council, he would face a global travel ban and asset freeze.

 The Chinese envoy also reiterated his country's support against global militancy.

"We are against all forms of terrorism and we always support international cooperation on counter-terrorism. And so, whoever is a terrorist that is somebody we are opposed to, and we should work against such activities," said Zhanwu.

China has repeatedly stonewalled India's efforts to designate Masood Azhar an international terrorist by the UN. It had said last week that India is yet to provide “solid evidence” against Azhar. It recently put a technical hold on the recent US move to designate Masood Azhar a terrorist in the 1267 committee of the UN Security Council, the third such time that it had put a technical hold.

The foreign secretary, who led a delegation of senior Indian diplomats in Beijing for talks with their Chinese counterparts, said the two countries had discussed bilateral, international as well as regional issues.

"Reviewed entirety of our relationship,both bilateral side and international, regional issues," the foreign secretary said after the strategic dialogue. 

"Held discussions on areas including Afghanistan, multilateral diplomacy, including counter-terror and bilateral relations and nuclear issues," he added.

On the Nuclear Suppliers Group, membership to which is being opposed by China, Jaishankar said though China was open to India's application for membership, their views differed over the procedures which India adopted by India.

"On NSG issue, Chinese side underlined that they were open to India’s application for membership but had their view of procedures and these were somewhat different from where we're at the moment and where we think most of the group is at the moment," the foreign secretary said.

On India's long-standing efforts to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Chinese envoy dismissed the notion that only China was opposed to the country's entry.

"In terms of NSG, it is kind of misleading to say that China is the only country to block India. Actually it's a kind of institutional thing, requires all members to come to agree to reach consensus. China is one of more than a dozen countries who believe that the procedures need to be followed in meeting India into NSG," he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is campaigning to join the NSG to back a multi-billion-dollar drive to build nuclear power plants in partnership with Russia, the United States and France, and reduce India's reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

China had earlier said it would not bend the rules and allow India membership as it had not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact.

China has maintained its position that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is central to the NSG.

India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington, even though India has developed atomic weapons and never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

(WION with inputs from ANI, PTI, Reuters)