After shielding Masood Azhar, China says ready to work with India

New Delhi/Beijing: China on Friday said it was ready to work with India to promote “constant progress” of bilateral relations, amid fresh strains in ties after Beijing again blocked Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar’s designation as a global terrorist by the United Nations.

China on Thursday for the fourth time blocked India, the US and other nations’ bid to list Pathankot terror attack mastermind Azhar as a global terrorist, saying “there is no consensus” within the members of the sanctions committee.

India reacted sharply to China’s move, saying “accommodating with terrorism” for narrow objectives was both short-sighted and counterproductive.

China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong on Friday told the media that China attached great importance to its relations with India.

“India is an important neighbour of China,” Chen said, adding China plans to step up ties with neighbours under the “neighbourhood diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era” enunciated by President Xi Jinping during the recently concluded key Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

“We are ready to work with India to promote constant progress of bilateral relations guided by this diplomacy with Chinese characteristics for the new era,” Chen said without elaborating.

He said China has been following this concept and vision over the past few years in its cooperation with the neighbours and deepening mutual political trust promoting practical cooperation with them.

In the last two years, China has stonewalled efforts by India to declare Azhar as a global terrorist.

Last year in March, China was the only member in the 15-nation UN organ to put a hold on India’s application with all other 14 members of the Council supporting New Delhi’s bid to place Azhar on the 1,267 sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban.

The relations between the two neighbours are also strained by a 73-day standoff at Dokalam over Chinese army’s plans to build a strategic road in the area also claimed by Bhutan.

Officials said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will travel to India next month to New Delhi to attend the Russia, India, China (RIC) Foreign Ministers meeting during which he would also hold talks with the Indian leadership on the bilateral relations during the second term of Xi.