China defends blocking Azhar terror listing, says it will help in finding lasting solution

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UNSC members may be forced to pursue other actions: diplomats on China blocking Azhar listing

BEIJING/WASHINGTON, March 14 (AGENCIES): China on Thursday defended its fourth “technical hold” on the designation of Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, saying the move would give it time for a “thorough and in-depth assessment” of the case and help the parties concerned to engage in more talks to find a “lasting solution” acceptable to all.

The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, the UK and the US on February 27, days after a suicide bomber of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, leading to a flare-up in tensions between India and Pakistan.

The Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee members had 10 working days to raise any objections to the proposal. Just before the deadline ended, China put a “technical hold” on the proposal seeking “more time to examine” it.

The proposal was the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist. Asked why China once again resorted to block the move, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here that Beijing’s decision is in line with the rules of the committee.

China “sincerely hopes that relevant action taken by this committee will help relevant countries to engage in dialogue and consultation and prevent adding more complicated factors into regional peace and stability,” he said.

“As to the technical hold at the 1267 Committee our action is to make sure that the committee will have enough time to study the matter so that the relevant sides will have time for dialogue and consultation,” Lu said.

“Only a solution that is acceptable to all sides could fundamentally provide a chance for a lasting solution to the issue. China is ready to communicate and coordinate with all sides including India to properly handle this issue,” he said.

The Security Council 1267 Committee has clear standards on the procedures of designating terrorist organisations and individuals, Lu said. “China conducts thorough and in-depth assessment of these applications and we still need more time, so that is why we put forward the technical hold,” he said.

India Wednesday expressed disappointment soon after China put a technical hold on designating Azhar. The External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi said India will continue to pursue all available avenues to ensure that leaders of terror groups involved in heinous attacks on Indian citizens are brought to justice.

“This has prevented action by the international community to designate the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a proscribed and active terrorist organization which has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14,” the MEA said.

Without naming China, it said the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee was not able to come to a decision on the proposal for listing Azhar on account of a member placing the proposal on hold.

To another question on the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping last year to improve the bilateral relations, Lu said, “Xi and Modi met four times. Particularly Wuhan summit made great progress. China is full of sincerity and ready to work with India to build on the consensus of our leaders for greater progress in the bilateral relations.”

On the Kashmir issue, Lu said China’s position on it is clear and consistent. “This is an issue that is left over between India and Pakistan. We hope that the two sides will engage in friendly dialogue consultation and solve this issue and other related issues,” he said.

Meanehile, responsible member-states of the Security Council will pursue other actions if China continues to block moves to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, diplomats at the UN’s principal organ have warned.

They spoke on condition of anonymity to give a sense of the feeling of the other members of the Security Council after China on Wednesday put a technical hold on the proposal to designate Azhar as a global terrorist. China has in the past blocked India’s bids to get Azhar listed as a UN-designated global terrorist thrice.

“If China continues to block this designation, responsible member-states may be forced to pursue other actions at the Security Council. It shouldn’t have to come to that,” a Security Council diplomat told PTI in an unusual tough warning to China.

“This is the fourth time that China has placed a hold on this listing. China should not prevent the Committee from doing the job the Security Council has entrusted it to do,” another security council diplomat told PTI.

“China’s move to hold the listing is inconsistent with its own stated goals of combatting terrorism and furthering regional stability in South Asia,” said the diplomat, requesting not to be named given that the deliberations of the UN sanctions committee are confidential, thus preventing member-countries from talking about it in public.

The second diplomat also slammed Pakistan for depending on China to protect terrorist groups and leaders that operate from its soil.

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