The Chinese government on Tuesday voiced strong support for Pakistan and mounted a defence of the country's record in fighting terrorism, pushing back against renewed international criticism aimed at Islamabad in the wake of Osama bin Laden's killing.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry rejected claims that its long-term strategic ally had not done enough to clamp down on terror groups operating on its soil — a suggestion that has been reinforced following the killing of the al-Qaeda leader in a mansion located only a stone's throw away from one of the country's top military academies in Abbottabad.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said China believed the Pakistani military establishment was unaware of the presence of bin Laden.

“We have to admit that the Pakistan government is firm in resolve and strong in action in its fight against terrorism, and the Pakistan government has made important contributions to the international fight against terrorism, to which we should have no doubt,” she said.

The Chinese government, she said, fully backed the Pakistani government's position that “it will never allow its territory to be used for terrorist activities and terrorist attacks against any country” and “would continue to support the international effort again terrorism”.

“We respect, understand and support Pakistan's above position,” she said.

Asked if China would, in the wake of bin Laden's killing, back India's efforts to bring to justice perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, Ms. Jiang said: “China will continue to firmly support Pakistan formulating and implementing an anti-terrorist strategy based on national conditions.”

China, she added, “would like to work with Pakistan, India and other South Asian countries to maintain peace and harmony in South Asia.”

Late on Monday night, the Chinese government issued a statement over bin Laden's death, hailing his killing as “a milestone and a positive development for the international anti-terrorism efforts”.

China, the statement said, was also “a victim of terrorism.” “China upholds that the international community should step up cooperation in working together to fight terrorism,” it said. “China believes that it is necessary to seek both a temporary solution and a permanent cure in fighting terrorism and to make great efforts to eliminate the soil on which terrorism relies to breed.”

More In: International | News