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Saturday 18 January 2020

China revises stand on Kashmir before Xi-Modi meeting

The statement from a spokesperson of China assumes all the more significance as Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is visiting Beijing ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India and informal talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

China changed its stand on Kashmir issue today, a day before the country is expected to make a formal announcement on its President Xi Jinping’s India visit. On Tuesday, China said that the Kashmir issue should be resolved through dialogue and consultation between India and Pakistan. The statement is a clear departure from the position earlier held by India’s northern neighbour wherein Beijing would say the matter should be resolved based on the United Nations Charter in the United Nations Security Council by reaching an India-Pakistan bilateral agreement on the forum.

China, the all-weather friend of Pakistan, had disappointed its ally previously on the Kashmir issue on 18 September after even the Islamic world had rejected Imran Khan’s outreach following the Narendra Modi government’s act of turning Article 370 defunct. Spokeswoman of the foreign ministry of China Hua Chunying had then said that her country saw Kashmir as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

The statement assumes all the more significance as Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is visiting Beijing ahead of the Chinese president’s visit to India and informal talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. China will make a formal announcement during a special briefing on Wednesday about President Xi’s much-reported and expected visit to India and possibly Nepal. So far, that country had not made a formal announcement in this regard.

“There has been a tradition of high-level exchanges between China and India,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in response to a question about Xi’s visit to India. There has been an exchange between the two sides regarding the high-level visit; any new information will be revealed soon, he said

Geng said that India and China were major developing countries of the world and were major emerging markets. “Since the Wuhan informal summit (last year), our bilateral relations have gained momentum,” he said.

The spokesman said, “We are increasing our cooperation and handling our differences well.” We have a tradition of high-level exchanges and both the sides are negotiating for high-level exchanges in the next phase. For this, we should create a good environment.”

Asked about Khan’s visit to China prior to Xi’s visit to India, Geng said China’s position is that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan. He asked, “And so you are paying attention to the Kashmir issue?” China’s stand on the Kashmir issue is clear and stable.

The spokesman said, “We have called upon India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue and consultation on all issues including Kashmir and to enhance mutual trust.” This is in the interest of both the countries and the whole world wants the same.

During his third visit to China this year, Imran Khan will meet President Xi Jinping as well as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, China’s head of parliament and National People’s Congress Chief Li Zhanshu. Khan is accompanied by Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa who will hold several high-level meetings, including one with his counterpart from the People’s Liberation Army.

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