China on Friday said it will not attend the G20, or Group of 20, meeting in Srinagar next week as Kashmir is a region disputed with its close strategic ally Pakistan, reported The Wire.

“China firmly opposes holding any form of G20 meeting in disputed areas and China will not attend such a meeting,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Webin told reporters in Beijing.

In April, China had skipped the two-day Youth-20 Summit meeting in Ladakh’s capital of Leh as well as one in March in Itanager in Arunachal Pradesh, a region Beijing claims as its own as part of Southern Tibet.

The two-day Srinagar meeting from May 24 is the first major international event to be held in Kashmir after the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre scrapped the special status grante to the the erstwhile state under Article 370 in August 2019 and divided it into two territories.

India has responded the China’s statement, saying New Delhi is free to hold meetings in its own territory, reported the Hindustan Times. It added that peace and tranquility on its border is essential for normal ties with the neighbouring nation.

Even the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues Fernand de Varennes had said that India was seeking to normalise the “brutal and repressive denial of democratic and other rights of Kashmiri Muslims and minorities” by holding G20 meetings in Jammu and Kashmir.

The UN expert said that “massive human rights violations” have been reported in Jammu and Kashmir since the Union Territory came under the direct rule of the Centre in August 2019. “These included torture, extrajudicial killings, denial of political participation rights of Kashmiri Muslims and minorities,” he said.

However, the Permanent Mission of India in Geneva had rejected Varennes’ statement as “baseless and unwarranted”.

Last month, Pakistan had also expressed its “strong indignation” after India announced that Jammu and Kashmir will be hosting a G20 meeting, reported Dawn.

“India’s irresponsible move is the latest in a series of self-serving measures to perpetuate its illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir in sheer disregard of the UN Security Council resolutions and in violation of the principles of the UN Charter and international law,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office had said.

However, on May 5, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said that that G20 meetings are held in all the Indian states and union territories which includes Jammu and Kashmir.

“I don’t think there is a G20 issue to debate with anybody,” Jaishankar had said. “Certainly not with a country which has got nothing to do with G20. Jammu and Kashmir was is and will always be a part of India.”