Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing played a key role in defusing the recent tensions between India and Pakistan. “China has stressed from the beginning the need to exercise calm and restraint and prevent escalation,” Wang said at a press conference on the sidelines of the second session of the 13th National People’s Congress.
“China hopes Pakistan and India will replace confrontation with dialogue, settle a disagreement by goodwill and create a better future through cooperation,” The Express Tribune quoted Wang as saying.
Referring Pakistan as “China’s iron brother”, Wang said China welcomes the willingness expressed by the two countries in recent days to de-escalate the situation and start talks.
“China hopes the two countries, which are neighbours and heirs to an ancient civilization, will get along, help each other and progress together,” Wang said.
“China also hopes Pakistan and India will transform the crisis into opportunity and meet each other halfway,” Wang said. “We advise both parties to quickly turn this page and seek a fundamental long-term improvement in their relations.”
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district in February 14.
India launched a counter-terror operation in Balakot on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured its pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.
China recently dispatched its Vice Foreign Minister Kong Kong Xuanyou to Pakistan where he held talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, besides Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, on ways to ease the India-Pakistan tensions.
His visit coincided with the US, the UK and French application in the 1267 counter terrorism committee of the UNSC to declare JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. If listed by the committee, Azhar would face a global travel ban and asset freeze. the JeM has already been banned by the UN.
While China blocked India's previous attempts to declare Azhar as a global terrorist, expectations are high that this time Beijing may take a different stand considering JeM has admitted its role in the Pulwama terror attack.
"In the last couple of days both Pakistan and India indicated a desire to de-escalate the situation and start talks. We welcome this. Pakistan and India are neighbours and always have to live with each other," Wang said.
"Both countries face important opportunities to realise stability, development and prosperity. China hopes the two countries will get along and progress together," he said.
Asked post-Wuhan summit, how China plans to develop its relations with India in the light of challenges and Beijing's close ties with Pakistan, the foreign minister said that 2018 was an "year of great significance for China and India relations".
(With PTI inputs)