Saturday, January 25, 2020

China will not pick sides in India-Pakistan disputes

By Li Qingqing

As the relations between Pakistan and India are at their lowest these days, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou paid a visit to Pakistan on Wednesday, calling the two sides to refrain from taking any actions that could further escalate the situation. Pakistan appreciated China’s objective and fair stand and thanked China for its efforts to reduce the tensions.

With the help of China and other concerned countries, India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria, who was called back to India after the tensions escalated, returned to Islamabad on Saturday. This indicates a large military confrontation has been averted.

How should Pakistan and India resolve their conflicts? The question has been confusing the two countries for a long time as there seems to be no perfect solution. Considering that both sides are on the verge of military conflict and even a war, the current situation can be dangerous. Although it seems that there will not be a large war between the two – both nations possess nuclear weapons and thus have achieved a so-called nuclear balance – it is still not a safe solution in the long run.

So what should the two countries do? We believe that political consultation must be the only channel to resolve the disputes. This is China’s consistent policy, and nothing will change China’s firm stand in promoting peaceful negotiations between India and Pakistan.

However, some Indians doubt China’s efforts. Some Indian experts blamed China for “continued protection” of terrorists who were allegedly based in Pakistan and launched the Pulwama terror attack in February. And many Indian analysts regard China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a geopolitical threat.

Such irresponsible statements are not supported by the facts. Foreign ministers of China, Russia and India held the 16th trilateral meeting on February 27. During the meeting, they vowed to eradicate breeding grounds of terrorism and extremism. In fact, China, Pakistan and India share common interests in combating terrorism. It is time for India to stop the groundless accusations.

And India should also understand this: Although China supported Pakistan in alleviating poverty and wiping out terrorism, Beijing is not an enemy of New Delhi.

Just the opposite: China proposed and launched the BRI, which not only meets India’s needs for infrastructure construction, but also helps ease India-Pakistan tensions. India should overcome its prejudices against the BRI as the initiative will boost cooperation and help bring stability to the region.

The disputed Kashmir region is not destined to be poor and backward forever. This is China’s goal and should also be the goal of both India and Pakistan. If the two countries can meet each other halfway, it would help them to build mutual trust, lay the foundation for peaceful negotiations and especially strengthen their cooperation on anti-terrorism together with China.

China will not pick sides in India-Pakistan disputes. Aiming at easing the two countries’ conflicts and improving the anti-terrorist situation, China will play the role of a mediator and facilitator amid the ongoing tensions.

Li Qingqing is a writer with Chinese national daily Global Times. This write-up first appeared in The Global Times. 

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