A day after the Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China pledged, in strong terms, to “jointly crack down” on the terror threat facing the region, China reiterated its unequivocal backing to Pakistan on the issue, underlining the likely limits of Chinese cooperation with regard to India’s specific concerns on the matter.
In response to a question about the outcomes of the Russia-India-China (RIC) Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New Delhi on Sunday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson made clear that counter-terrorism cooperation would steer clear of issues that might be seen as affecting Pakistani sensitivities.
“On the anti-terrorism issue, we support the Pakistani side to formulate and carry out anti-terrorism strategies in accordance with its national conditions,” spokesperson Qin Gang said, replying to a question at a regular briefing about how the RIC countries would take forward counterterrorism initiatives, especially in the wake of Chinese concerns following the October 28 attack in Tiananmen Square, where a jeep drove into a crowd and burst into flames, killing two tourists and injuring 40 others.
“China maintains that the international community should enhance cooperation to jointly crack down on and combat terrorism”, he said. “We should address both symptoms and root causes of terrorism."
In the joint communiqué issued in New Delhi on Sunday, the RIC Foreign Ministers “condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever, and for whatever purposes”, using stronger language, officials said, than in past statements. The communique said the countries “underlined the need to bring to justice perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of terrorist acts”.
The communiqué also “condemned in the strongest terms” the October 28 attack in Tiananmen Square, adding that “there cannot be ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic, or any other justification for acts of terrorism”. China has blamed the Tiananmen attack on terrorist groups from its far-western Muslim-majority Xinjiang region.
Mr. Qin said that the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, also held consultations in New Delhi with Sartaj Aziz, the foreign policy adviser of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in a rare instance of Sino-Pakistan talks taking place in India. The talks were held on the sidelines of Monday’s Asia-Europe (ASEM) Foreign Minister’s Meeting.
Mr. Wang told Mr. Aziz that China wanted the “early implementation” of the China-Pakistan economic corridor project, which envisages linking a new economic zone that is being built in Xinjiang to Pakistan, through road and rail networks and oil and gas pipelines. The plan has concerned India because it involves construction through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which borders Xinjiang.