Ahead of its strategic dialogue with India, China on Friday said “solid evidence” was needed for it to back efforts to get JeM chief Masood Azhar banned by the United Nations.
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar and China’s executive vice-foreign minister Zhang Yesui will hold a new round of strategic dialogue in Beijing on February 22, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a media briefing.
The two sides will have an in-depth exchange of views on the international situation and other regional and global issues of mutual interest in the strategic dialogue which is an important communication mechanism between India and China, he said.
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 Masood Azhar issue, 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.”
China last year put a technical hold twice on India’s application to get Masood Azhar banned by the UN.
This year, the US moved the proposal in the UNSC to designate Masood Azhar, the mastermind of the Pathankot terror attack, as a terrorist. China once again has put a technical hold on the move.
On India’s entry into the NSG, he said, “We have said many times this is a multilateral issue”.
“We stick to two-step approach namely, first NSG members need to arrive at a set of principles for the entry of non-NPT state parties into NSG and then move forward discussions of specific cases,” Geng said.
“Our position is consistent. Apart from India, other non-NPT state parties are also making applications. Our position on those applications is consistent,” he said.
Whether the Masood Azhar issue or the NSG issue, they are in essence multilateral issues and not bilateral ones, Geng said.