Reaffirming its support to Pakistan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Tuesday pledged to uphold Pakistan’s sovereign independence and territorial integrity saying its commitment will remain despite changes in the international landscape.
Speaking in Beijing at the first-ever China-Pakistan Foreign Minister-level strategic dialogue, Wang said: “No matter how things change in the world and in the region, China will firmly support Pakistan in upholding its sovereign independence and territorial integrity and dignity.”
Wang was with his Pakistan counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who acknowledged China’s support to his country in “difficult times” and thanked Beijing for its support to Pakistan.
Their remarks come weeks after India carried out airstrikes in Pakistan’s Balakot following a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide attack on a convoy in Pulwama on February 14, which killed 40 CRPF personnel. The attack and the subsequent airstrikes have heightened tensions along the Line of Control. The Foreign Ministers’ meeting was held less than a week after China put a technical hold on the proposal to list Jaish chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist in the UN Security Council 1267 committee for the fourth time.
Qureshi also said that the two countries discussed the situation after the Pulwama incident. “I also briefed the Foreign Minister (Wang) on the rapidly deteriorating situation on the Indian side of Kashmir, intensification of human rights violations, especially after Pulwama,” he said. “Pakistan appreciates the role that China has played, once again, in standing by Pakistan in these difficult times.”
CPEC, Belt and Road on Beijing’s mind
China’s remarks underscoring firm support to Pakistan come in the backdrop of heightened tension between India-Pak since the February 14 Pulwama terror attack and the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing next month. This is the second Forum and India chose to skip the first BRF in 2017 in protest against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship Belt and Road Initiative project. India has said the CPEC runs through the disputed PoK. How Delhi engages with Beijing in April remains to be seen.
Referring to Kashmir, Qureshi said: “This is a concern because that leads to a reaction, and that reaction at times creates tensions in the region that must be avoided. I think there is a need for a new assessment on how the situation on the Indian side of Kashmir should be handled by the Indians.”
With China set to host the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing next month, Qureshi said: “The Chinese government was very generous in supporting Pakistan. We had good discussions…We are committed to the expeditious implementation of CPEC,” Qureshi said.