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China has ignored Wuhan spirit: experts

Beijing faulted for praising Pakistan’s conduct

China has not shown respect to the ‘Wuhan spirit’, by praising Pakistan for its role in South Asia, veteran commentators have said, after the China-Pakistan joint statement issued on Sunday urged Beijing to play a greater role in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

“China would have frozen all fresh initiatives with Pakistan if it had any respect for the Wuhan spirit that took off after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Xi Jinping earlier this year. By appreciating Pakistan for its role in the relationship with India, China is clearly interfering with India’s affairs in South Asia,” said former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal.

In the statement, China appreciated Pakistan’s position on dialogue with India on outstanding disputes. Both sides agreed on ensuring a peaceful and stable South Asia. Pakistan urged China to play an “active” role in the SAARC platform where it is at present an observer. But Mr. Sibal said the association is stuck due to Pakistan’s role in promoting cross-border terrorism.

Appreciation of Pakistan’s conduct is in contrast with India’s recent criticism of a new bus service through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) that is expected to start this week.

“The bus service is a clear sign that China does not intend to respect the Wuhan spirit,” said Mr. Sibal.

Some said the statement reflected China’s eagerness for a multilateral foothold in South Asia.

“China has emerged as a bilateral development partner for several South Asian countries, but is yet to acquire institutional and multilateral support for its role in the region. It can acquire such a multilateral support only if it respects India’s sovereignty concerns,” said Prof. B.R. Deepak of JNU.

India lodged a strong protest against the proposed China-Pakistan bus service that will pass through PoK. “It is the Government of India’s consistent and well-known position that the so-called China-Pakistan “Boundary Agreement” of 1963 is illegal and invalid, and has never been recognised by the Government of India,” the Ministry of External Affairs had said on November 1.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 7:33:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/china-has-ignored-wuhan-spirit-experts/article25420010.ece

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