China has called on both India and Pakistan to avoid an escalation in tension in the aftermath of aerial attacks by both neighbours, AFP reported on Thursday, citing a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in an “urgent” call with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday night, expressed “deep concern” over the crisis in Jammu and Kashmir. “Late at night on February 27, 2019, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made an urgent call to State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to update him on the situation between Pakistan and India,” the ministry said.
The call took place hours after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met the foreign ministers of China and Russia in Beijing. After the meeting, the three countries had issued a joint communique saying that extremist groups must not be supported and used for political and geopolitical goals.
Wang told Qureshi he hoped the nuclear-armed neighbours would “exercise restraint and earnestly fulfil their commitment to preventing the expansion of the situation”. Qureshi also expressed hope that Beijing would keep playing a role in helping to resolve the standoff, the South China Morning Post reported.
“China is concerned with the tense situation facing South Asia,” Wang said. “As a mutual friend to India and Pakistan, China hopes both sides can exercise restraint to avoid an escalation of tensions.” The territorial and sovereign rights of all countries should be respected, he said, adding that China will continue to play a “constructive role” in easing the tension.
Wang’s remarks echoed those made on Tuesday, when China urged both India and Pakistan to “exercise restraint”. China had also asked India to fight against terrorism through international cooperation.
The Indian Air Force’s strikes against a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp across the Line of Control in Balakot were in retaliation to the Pulwama suicide bombing on February 14, in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed. The attack was claimed by the Jaish-e-Mohammad. In the aftermath of the attack, India urged the United Nations to list Azhar as a global terrorist, an effort that China has repeatedly blocked.
The United States, the United Kingdom and France on Wednesday moved a fresh proposal at the UN Security Council to blacklist Azhar, subject him to an arms embargo, impose a global travel ban and freeze his assets. China, also a permanent member of the Security Council, is likely to once again oppose the proposal.