China on Wednesday said it was unaware of reports that the United States, United Kingdom and France have served it an April 23 deadline to lift its technical hold on designating Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lu Kang, however, said the matter must be resolved through cooperation between the members of the United Nations Security Council.

Being designated a global terrorist will subject Azhar to an assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo.

“I don’t know where you got the news,” Lu told reporters at a press conference when asked about the ultimatum. “The Security Council and its affiliates have clear rules of procedure and relevant disciplinary rules. You are afraid to ask the relevant parties to verify your information.”

He said the matter must be addressed through cooperation. “We do not believe that forcing any programme that does not reach an agreement will achieve the results that its advocates hope to see.”

He said the Security Council members were trying to force a new resolution against Azhar through the UN body. Lu said China has always opposed this practice and remains opposed to it.

However, the spokesperson added that the matter is “moving in the direction of resolution”. “Recently, China has continued to maintain communication with relevant countries, and things are moving in the direction of resolution,” he said.

China is the only member of the United Nations Security Council that has repeatedly blocked the move to designate Azhar a global terrorist. Azhar’s extremist organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14, which claimed the lives of 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel.

On April 1, China said it has made “positive progress” on on resolving the deadlock over designating Azhar a global terrorist. However, it also criticised the United States for trying to get Azhar blacklisted through a draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council.