The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed on Wednesday that Chinese president Xi Jinping will visit India on 11 and 12 October to hold an informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ahead of this scheduled informal meeting in Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu, Beijing changed its stance on Kashmir on Tuesday, calling for the issue to be resolved between New Delhi and Islamabad bilaterally, significantly omitting its recent references to the United Nations (UN) and UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
When asked about Imran Khan's visit to Beijing ahead of Xi's trip to India and whether the Kashmir issue will figure in the Pakistan prime minister's talks with the Chinese leaders, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that China's stand is that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan.
"And so you are paying attention to the Kashmir issue, right? China's position on Kashmir issue is clear and consistent”, he said, adding, "We call on India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue and consultation on all issues including Kashmir issue and consolidate mutual trust. This is in line with the interest of both countries and common aspiration of the world."
His comments marked a significant shift in what China has been saying on Kashmir in the aftermath of India's decision to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution and withdrawing the special status granted to Jammu Kashmir on 5 August. From helping Pakistan take the issue to the UN and internationalise it, to calling it a bilateral matter, China has been going back and forth on Kashmir. Now, Geng's comments on Tuesday signals China's return to its original stand that Kashmir issue should be resolved bilaterally.
Reactions since the scrapping of Article 370:
Issue should be solved 'peacefully'
In its first reaction on 6 August, the Chinese foreign ministry issued two separate statements. In one statement, China expressed its opposition to India's move to create a separate Union Territory of Ladakh highlighting Beijing's territorial claims in the area. The second statement said, "We call on both India and Pakistan to peacefully resolve the relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and safeguard peace and stability in the region". But, it went on to later add UN and UNSC resolutions on Kashmir when Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Beijing a few days later and met his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.
Qureshi claimed that China "offered complete" support to Pakistan, should Islamabad take the matter to the UNSC.
"It (Kashmir issue) should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UNSC resolutions and bilateral agreement," Wang had said.
Meanwhile, India did not take well to the statements and rejected China's objection to its decision to create a separate Union Territory of Ladakh, terming it an internal matter of the country. MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and it expects other nations to do the same.
Closed-door meeting at UNSC
A closed-door meet of the UNSC was held on 16 August after China called for a meeting to discuss Kashmir. This move came after Pakistan wrote a letter to the UNSC president Joanna Wronecka requesting participation in the meeting under the agenda item 'India-Pakistan question'.
Although the meeting took place behind closed doors, the Chinese Ambassador, Zhang Jun, spoke to reporters outside the chamber following deliberations on the issue, urging both India and Pakistan to “refrain from taking any unilateral action which might further aggravate” what was an already “tense and very dangerous” situation.
Ambassador Zhang said Council members had “expressed their serious concern” over the current situation in the Valley. He stated, "The Kashmir issue should be resolved properly through peaceful means, in accordance with the UN Charter, the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.”
Raises Kashmir 'dispute' at the UN again
China again raised the Kashmir issue at the UN in September during foreign minister Wang Yi' address to the UN General Assembly, saying that the "dispute" should be peacefully and properly addressed in accordance with the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions and the bilateral agreement.
The Chinese foreign minister's remarks came a day after Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan raised the Kashmir issue in his maiden address to the UN General Assembly. Khan spoke at length about India's decision to revoke Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and criticised the government's move to enforce a communication lockdown in the Valley.
India objected to China's reference to the Kashmir issue, saying the region was an integral part of the country and all nations should respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. "We expect that other countries will respect India's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and desist from efforts to change the status quo through the illegal so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," said MEA spokesperson. Kumar added that the recent developments were entirely a "matter internal to us (India)".
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Oct 09, 2019 17:24:15 IST