China on Thursday defended its fourth "technical hold" on the designation of Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, saying the move would give it time for a "thorough and in-depth assessment" of the case and help the parties concerned to engage in more talks to find a "lasting solution" acceptable to all.
The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, the UK and the US on February 27, days after a suicide bomber of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama, leading to a flare-up in tensions between India and Pakistan.
The Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee members had 10 working days to raise any objections to the proposal. Just before the deadline ended, China put a "technical hold" on the proposal seeking "more time to examine" it.
The proposal was the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist.
Asked why China once again resorted to block the move, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here that Beijing's decision is in line with the rules of the committee.
China "sincerely hopes that relevant action taken by this committee will help relevant countries to engage in dialogue and consultation and prevent adding more complicated factors into regional peace and stability," he said.
"As to the technical hold at the 1267 Committee our action is to make sure that the committee will have enough time to study the matter so that the relevant sides will have time for dialogue and consultation," Lu said.
"Only a solution that is acceptable to all sides could fundamentally provide a chance for a lasting solution to the issue. China is ready to communicate and coordinate with all sides including India to properly handle this issue," he said.
The Security Council 1267 Committee has clear standards on the procedures of designating terrorist organisations and individuals, Lu said.
"China conducts thorough and in-depth assessment of these applications and we still need more time, so that is why we put forward the technical hold," he said.
India Wednesday expressed disappointment soon after China put a technical hold on designating Azhar.
The External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi said India will continue to pursue all available avenues to ensure that leaders of terror groups involved in heinous attacks on Indian citizens are brought to justice.
"This has prevented action by the international community to designate the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a proscribed and active terrorist organization which has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14," the MEA said.
Without naming China, it said the UN's 1267 Sanctions Committee was not able to come to a decision on the proposal for listing Azhar on account of a member placing the proposal on hold.
To another question on the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping last year to improve the bilateral relations, Lu said, "Xi and Modi met four times. Particularly Wuhan summit made great progress. China is full of sincerity and ready to work with India to build on the consensus of our leaders for greater progress in the bilateral relations."
On the Kashmir issue, Lu said China's position on it is clear and consistent.
"This is an issue that is left over between India and Pakistan. We hope that the two sides will engage in friendly dialogue consultation and solve this issue and other related issues," he said.
Meanwhile, commenting on China's move blocking Azhar's terror listing at the UN, Chinese analysts said that Beijing needs solid proof to back the proposal.
Long Xingchun, non-resident fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, told state-run Global Times that China is concerned about the recent attacks in Kashmir and feels sympathetic toward the victims but "this will not alter China's consistent stance toward the status of Azhar".
"If India cannot offer new evidence, China will not change its position. If China does, it will be a repudiation of its previous stance and leave the impression that it was deliberately blocking India's bid in the past. This will have a much wider impact on China's diplomacy," he said.
Zhang Jiadong, director of Centre for South Asian Studies, Fudan University, said: "China's position on Azhar is consistent as India failed to provide updated evidence. China and India should eye the bigger picture and prevent differences over concrete issues coming in the way of bilateral relations; otherwise, it will hurt the interests of both countries, especially India".
Liu Zongyi, senior fellow of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said whether to list Azhar as a global terrorist has been a long-lasting dispute between China and India. In 2017, New Delhi's demand was partly behind the Doklam standoff.
"If New Delhi succeeds in having both JeM and its leader blacklisted, Islamabad would be branded as a state sponsor of terrorism and isolated on the international stage. This is what India wants to pursue till the end," he said.