China on Friday said it was “seriously concerned” about the Indian government’s recent decisions on Jammu and Kashmir, and urged India and Pakistan to resolve its differences bilaterally based on the United Nations charter and the 1972 Simla Agreement.
“The Kashmir issue is a dispute left from the colonial history,” a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China said. “It should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreement. China believes that unilateral actions that will complicate the situation should not be taken.”
The statement came after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and informed him of Pakistan’s stand on the matter. Qureshi had reportedly gone to Beijing to seek China’s support against the revocation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
“Wang Yi noted that China is seriously concerned about the latest escalation of tensions in Kashmir,” the statement added. The Chinese foreign ministry also said that it would continue to support Pakistan in protecting its “legitimate rights and interests and uphold justice for Pakistan” in the international community. But, Wang noted that India and Pakistan were both friendly neighbours of China and developing countries.
“We call on the two sides to proceed from their national development and peace in South Asia, properly resolve historical grievances, get rid of the zero-sum mindset, avoid unilateral action and seek a new path to peaceful coexistence,” the statement added.
On Pakistan’s decision to downgrade diplomatic relations with India, China said the matter should be resolved through negotiation. “The pressing priority is that the relevant party should stop unilaterally changing the status quo and avoid escalation of tension,” PTI quoted the ministry as saying.
After the meeting, Qureshi said that China had assured Pakistan of its support and acknowledged what he described as India’s “aggressive stance on Kashmir”. “China supports Pakistan’s repeated calls for peace and stability and we will work together to highlight the voice of Kashmiris to the world,” Qureshi tweeted.
His visit came days ahead of India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s three-day visit to China. Earlier this week, China had opposed the Indian government’s decision to turn Ladakh into a Union Territory, claiming that it was a Chinese territory, but the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday said the decision to bifurcate Ladakh was an internal matter.
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday gave his assent to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which seeks to convert the state into a Union Territory and to separate Ladakh into another union territory. Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh will come into existence as union territories on October 31.
On Monday, India revised Article 370 of Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and ordered all laws to be applicable in the region the way they are in the rest of the country. The contentious law had so far ensured that the state had its own laws, flag and a Constitution.
Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India over Kashmir, responded by downgrading diplomatic ties, suspending bilateral trade, and halting the Samjhauta Express and Thar train services between the two countries. India said Pakistan’s reaction was meant to present an “alarming picture” of bilateral relations to the international community. India added that Jammu and Kashmir was its integral part and hence it was an internal matter.