China on Monday said it has made “positive progress” on resolving the deadlock over designating Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, PTI reported.

Speaking to the media in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said, “After the application for designation of Azhar was proposed [in the 1267 committee], China is in close communication and coordination with various parties and made positive progress. The US knows that very well.”

When asked if the progress was on blacklisting Azhar, Geng said, “Yes. The US knows that very well”, but did not elaborate.

China has repeatedly blocked attempts by the United Nations Security Council to blacklist Azhar, most recently on March 13. The Jaish-e-Mohammad had claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attacks that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force Personnel in Jammu and Kashmir. China’s stance has soured its relations with India.

China on Monday also criticised the US for trying to get Azhar blacklisted through a draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council after Beijing had blocked attempts to do so in the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee a fortnight ago. A global terrorist designation will subject Azhar to an assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo. While the 1267 Committee route requires the consensus of all members, the draft resolution needs a go-ahead from nine UNSC members and no vetoes from the five permanent members – China, Russia, the United States, France or Britain – to be accepted, according to Reuters.

Geng said taking the draft resolution route was “not a constructive move and set a bad example”. PTI further quoted him as saying, “We hope various parties will meet each other halfway and continue to properly solve this issue under the 1267 Committee framework. The majority [of UNSC members] believes that efforts should be made to solve the issues under 1267 Committee framework...China has been working with various parties and is making progress. The US knows that very well and yet, it insists on pushing the Security Council to adopt the draft resolution.”

This, Geng said, goes against the Security Council’s practices. “It is setting a bad example that will only complicate the matter. It is also not conducive for peace and stability in South Asia. China is opposed to this,” he added.

China’s defence

The proposal to blacklist Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee was moved by United States, the United Kingdom and France two weeks after the Pulwama bombing. China blocked it by putting a “technical hold” on the application. It defended its move saying it was only following procedure and needed more time to review the proposal.

The country’s foreign ministry said its actions do not amount to protecting violent Islamic groups from sanctions – an allegation levelled by the United States. China had previously prevented the Security Council’s Islamic State and al Qaeda sanctions committee from sanctioning Azhar in 2016 and 2017. On February 15, a day after the Pulwama attack, China had refused to back India’s appeal at the UN to designate Azhar a global terrorist.