Days before Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to visit India for an informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mamallapuram on October 11-12, India lodged a “strong protest” with China through diplomatic channels Saturday over controversial comments made by the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan on Kashmir.
The Sunday Express has learnt that India has also “sought clarification” over what is seen as a departure from Beijing’s stated position on Jammu and Kashmir.
Chinese ambassador in Islamabad Yao Jing said Friday that China would stand by Pakistan for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. “We are also working for Kashmiris to help them get their fundamental rights and justice. There should be a justified solution to the issue of Kashmir and China will stand by Pakistan for regional peace and stability,” he said, according to Pakistani daily, The Express Tribune.
Yao, who has served in New Delhi as deputy chief of mission earlier, said this at a dialogue on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) hosted by the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations. Delhi views his comments as a departure from Beijing’s position which has always maintained that the issue of Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, and the two countries must resolve this dispute bilaterally. Yao’s statement is also seen by Delhi as interfering with India’s “internal matter” and “not keeping in spirit” with the proposed visit by Xi.
This also comes just after Chinese Vice Minister Luo Zhaohui, who was Chinese envoy to India, raised the issue of the Himgiri military exercises in Arunachal Pradesh with Foreign secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale. Luo, who is visiting India to lay the groundwork for Xi’s visit for the informal summit, had raised the issue of military exercises in Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims to be part of it’s own territory. India rejects such claims.
Meanwhile, Chinese Embassy spokesperson Ji Rong also disputed Saturday a report in the media that the 150th birth anniversary celebration of Mahatma Gandhi was held in the Indian Embassy premises in Beijing because the relevant local authority denied permission for it to take place in its chosen venue at Chaoyang Park of Beijing.
Ji said, “I have noted the relevant report. We have learned that due to the celebration activities of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Indian embassy in China has been advised to hold this year’s 150th birth anniversary celebration of Mahatma Gandhi somewhere else. It’s purely for technical reasons. Mahatma Gandhi is an important historical figure who led India to shake off colonial rule and win independence. He is widely respected in China and the world. The Chinese side welcomes the hosting of relevant events in China to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi.”
The string of strong statements comes days before the informal summit for which India has already been making preparations.
While officials have made arrangements for the two leaders to meet in an informal environment around the temples in Mamallapuram, Delhi and Beijing are yet to confirm the visit officially. According to the proposed schedule, Xi is likely to arrive in Chennai on October 11 and leave on October 12, a shorter duration than what Modi’s when he went to Wuhan for the first informal summit.
Incidentally, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had raised the issue of Kashmir at the UN General Assembly on September 27 — the day Modi and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had spoken.
“The Kashmir issue, a dispute left from the past, should be peacefully and properly addressed in accordance with the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. No actions that would unilaterally change the status quo should be taken. As a neighbour of both India and Pakistan, China hopes to see the dispute effectively managed and stability restored to the relationship between the two sides,” Wang had said.
Responding to Wang’s statement, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said, “The Chinese side is well aware of India’s position that Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are an integral part of India, and that the recent developments are entirely a matter internal to us.”
“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,” he had said.