China welcomes the improvement in relations between India and Pakistan which was “vital” for regional prosperity and China's own development, the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Sunday.

China welcomed Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to India, Xinhua said, adding that Beijing was “happy to witness continuous improvement” of India-Pakistan ties.

“The two countries' efforts in warming up their ties certainly are welcomed and applauded by the international community including China, which neighbours both nations and maintains significant ties with them,” said the commentary, which was authored by Yu Zhixiao, a commentator for the state-run news agency.

The article said China had good relations with both countries, sharing an “all-weather friend” equation with Pakistan but also increasingly cooperating with India, particularly under the umbrella of the BRICS “bloc of five major emerging economies” along with Brazil, Russia and South Africa.

“Peaceful coexistence is indispensable for regional stability,” the commentary said, “which is vital for regional prosperity and China's modernisation drive.”

The commentary echoed recent statements made by Chinese officials, saying that Beijing wanted “to further boost ties with both countries.”

Projects in PoK

Last month, officials here sought to address Indian concerns over one aspect of China-Pakistan relations that has continued to trouble India — investments in infrastructure projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) — although Indian and Chinese officials stress that China-Pakistan ties are no longer a major factor influencing the overall bilateral relationship.

Increasing Chinese investments in projects in PoK over the past couple of years, coupled with the issuing of stapled visas to Indian citizens from Jammu and Kashmir, had prompted some suggestions that China was further deepening its already close strategic ties with Pakistan and beginning to move away from its earlier position of not involving itself in the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.

But senior Foreign Ministry official Sun Weidong, who is Deputy Director-General of the Asia Department, told Indian reporters here last month that China's only focus in PoK was developing the local economy of the region — which borders China's far western Xinjiang — and did not mean that China was either ratifying Pakistani claims or moving away from its long-stated position on the issue. He also hinted that the stapled visa issue had been resolved, pointing out that there had been no media reports on the matter in recent months.

“The dispute is between India and Pakistan,” he said. “So, whenever there are disputes or tensions, China will not be judgmental.”

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