China on Friday said it welcomed the “goodwill signal” by the Pakistan side responding to reports of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement that the captured IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman would be released as a gesture of peace. LIVE news updates
In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that from the start China was calling upon both sides to exercise restraint, ease tensions and engage in dialogue. “China welcomes the goodwill signal by Pakistan side. De-escalation serves common interest of both sides,” he said. “Encourage both sides to make a joint effort to deal with the relevant issue.” He reiterated that China hopes to see regional peace and stability.
Chinese news agency, Xinhua reported Khan’s announcement of releasing the detained Indian pilot, and also said that tensions between the two neighbours have been running high after the terror attack in “Indian-controlled Kashmir” which killed over 40 Indian paramilitary troopers. “India blamed Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM), a militant group which has been banned in Pakistan in 2002, for the attack and some Indian leaders had pointed fingers at Pakistan, which had denied the allegations,” the report said.
Meanwhile, China Daily, the state owned English language daily newspaper in its editorial ‘India, Pakistan need to rein in their animosity’ said: “As a good neighbour of both Pakistan and India, China, in particular, has expressed “deep concern” over the situation, urging the two arch rivals to “exercise restraint” and resolve their dispute through dialogue.”
It further noted the “nationalistic hysteria” being on the “rise in both countries” and “their leaders will have to work hard to ensure they are not hijacked by the mood of the public, especially after tit-for-tat airstrikes in which both sides claimed they shot down each other’s fighter jets and the Pakistanis said they captured at least one Indian pilot.”
The editorial then reiterates China’s stance on respecting the sovereignty of a country’s territory. “The anger over the heavy casualties is understandable. But using warplanes to bomb targets deep inside another sovereign country’s territory has only aggravated the situation. As has the rhetoric of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is keen to present a strong image ahead of the coming elections. It is worth noting that shortly after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed power last year, he invited Modi for dialogue, although the invitation was rejected by New Delhi,” the editorial states.
It also said that Pakistan was “also a victim of terrorism”, and “because it is on the forefront of the global fight against terrorism, it has paid a huge price, with thousands of its soldiers and civilians having been killed by extremists that target them.” Further: “Given the high risks involved in a prolonged conflict, both leaders must make sure any of the actions they are going to take are measured. Maybe Khan could start by releasing the captured Indian pilot, in a show of goodwill to improve its ties with India,” the editorial states.