China on Wednesday defended its decision to block the US’ proposal in the UN for designating Pathankot attack mastermind and JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, saying the “conditions” have not yet been met for Beijing to back the move. Replying to a spate of questions on China putting a technical hold for the third time on attempts to list Azhar as a global terrorist, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here that Beijing resorted to this move to allow the “relevant parties” to reach a consensus. “Last year 1,267 Committee of the UN Security Council discussed the issue regarding listing Masood (Azhar) in the sanctions list. There were different views with no consensus reached,” Lu said.
“As for the submission once again by relevant countries to list him in the sanctions list, I would say the conditions are not yet met for the Committee to reach a decision,” he said. “China has put the request on technical hold, to allow the relevant parties more time to consult with each other. This is also in line with rules of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the rules of the discussion of the Committee,” he said. About the significance of US pushing for the ban against the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief this time unlike the last year when India pressed for his listing as terrorist, Lu said, “I would like to point out that the Committee has its own set of discussion rules.”
“So, whoever submitted the request we believe all the members of the committee will act in line with regulations of the Security Council and its affiliations,” he said. To a question whether it will have an impact on China-India relations, he said Beijing and New Delhi “have exchanged views” on the issue. “We don’t hope it will have a negative impact on our relationship,” he said.
On criticism that China is continuously blocking the move at the behest of Pakistan, Lu said, “China’s action in the Security Council and its affiliations are in line with the regulations and procedures.” “We put out technical hold after we had several rounds of consultations with India. We hope relevant parties have enough time to consult with each other to make sure that the decision made by the Committee will be based on consensus representing the broad international community,” he said.
China has put a “hold” on the US-initiated proposal, which comes barely weeks after India’s bid to get Azhar banned by the UN were scuttled by Beijing last December. This has prompted India to take up the matter with the Chinese government. On whether the issue on the ban on Azhar can be resolved this year as it dragged into the second year, Lu said, “It is not the length of time.” “It is a matter of time whether a consensus can be reached on the basis of full consultations.”
Asked to identify specific reasons for blocking Azhar’s ban, Lu said, “Consultations in the Security Council and internal discussions of its affiliations has its own set of discussion rules.” “All the details are closed to the outside (world) for all these years the formation of the Security Council and its affiliations have been acting in line with these discussion rules. We hope there will be enough time for full discussion to reach a decision that can be justifiable in the international community,” he said.
The US, supported by two other permanent members of UN Security Council -the UK and France- moved the proposal at the UN’s Sanctions Committee 1267 in the second-half of the last month to proscribe Azhar. The proposal, which was finalised after “consultations” between Washington and New Delhi, said JeM is a designated terror outfit and so its leaders cannot go scot-free.
It was submitted just a day before the inauguration of US President Donald Trump. China has been constantly opposing efforts to get Azhar banned by the UN, which has proscribed his outfit JeM in 2001. The Chinese opposition is also seen by many as an action taken at the behest of its “all-weather ally” Pakistan. After the attack on the IAF base at Pathankot in January last year, India in February wrote to the UN calling for immediate action to list Azhar under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee. The efforts faced stiff opposition by China, which twice put a “technical hold” before finally blocking the Indian proposal in December.