PoK: India conveys concerns to China

India on Friday conveyed its concerns to China over what officials described as “a pattern of what China was doing” in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, also raising questions over reports that 11,000 Chinese troops were present in the disputed region.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun assured Indian officials in talks that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops present in the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region were stationed there only for flood relief work and to provide humanitarian assistance, sources in the Indian embassy here told The Hindu.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday described The New York Times opinion piece, which claimed that Pakistan had “handed over” control of the disputed region in PoK to China, as “totally groundless and out of ulterior motive.”

The Foreign Ministry's denial, however, raised eyebrows in New Delhi with its reference to the disputed region as “a part of northern Pakistan.” China has, in the past, refrained from voicing support to either Indian or Pakistani sovereignty claims.

China's reference to Gilgit-Baltistan was also raised in the talks, the embassy sources said. “We raised a set of PoK-issues,” the sources said.

Clarification sought

Indian Ambassador to China S. Jaishankar, who had earlier this week briefed the Cabinet Committee on Security on China-related developments, was understood to have sought clarifications from China on whether the moves suggested a fundamental change in Beijing's Kashmir policy.

The officials also repeated their concerns over China's issuing stapled visas to Indian citizens from Jammu and Kashmir since last year, another move seen as China questioning India's sovereignty over the State.

Relations between the two countries, on the upswing in recent months, have seen renewed strains after China refused a visa to Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal, chief of the Army's Northern Command, last month.

Mr. Zhang assured India that there was no change in China's decades-old position that it supported a resolution to the Kashmir problem by India and Pakistan.

Chinese officials have, so far, not commented on the visa denial, though Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said on Thursday that China's visa policy, as well as its position on Kashmir, stayed unchanged.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 12:04:22 PM |

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