China backs Pakistan after Modi’s ‘mothership of terrorism’ remark

Beijing asks world community to acknowledge Pakistan’s “great sacrifices” in fighting terrorism

Chinese President Xi Jinping.  Photo: AFP
Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: AFP

New Delhi: China on Monday defended its “all weather ally” Pakistan a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the country as the “mother ship of terrorism”, stating that Beijing was against linking any country or religion with terrorism.

When asked to comment on Modi’s characterization of Pakistan at the BRICS or Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa Summit in Goa, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying asked the world community to acknowledge Pakistan’s “great sacrifices” in fighting terrorism.

China’s position “on counter-terrorism... is consistent”, she said, adding “it is the same way we oppose linking terrorism with any specific country or religion”.

“We oppose terrorism in all forms and believe concerted global efforts are needed to ensure stability and security of all countries,” Hua said.

“We oppose linking terrorism with any specific ethnicity or religion. This is our long-standing position,” she said.

Noting that India and Pakistan are “all victims of terrorism”, she said Islamabad has made “great sacrifices to combat terrorism and this needs to be recognized by the international community”.

In his opening remarks at the BRICS summit on Sunday, Modi had urged leaders of BRICS countries, including China, to collectively act against a neighbour he described as the “mother ship of terrorism”.

“In our region, terrorism poses a grave threat to peace, security and development. Tragically, the mother ship of terrorism is a country in India’s neighbourhood. Terror modules around the world are linked to this mother ship. This country shelters not just terrorists, it nurtures a mindset. A mindset that loudly proclaims terrorism is justified for political gains. It is a mindset we strongly condemn and against which we as BRICS need to stand and act together. BRICS must speak in one voice against this threat,” Modi said in a closed-door meeting with leaders.

India blames Pakistan for terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir as well as other parts of India. This is a charge Pakistan denies.

Despite India’s repeated requests, China has continued to support its long-standing ally Pakistan and has twice vetoed India’s bid to get Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar declared as a UN-designated terrorist. The first instance was in April and the second earlier this month. India holds Azhar responsible for many terrorist acts in India including the 13 December 2001 attack on Parliament as well the 2 January 2016 attack on the Pathankot airbase.

But Beijing has been unmoved by India’s calls to enlist its support to pinning blame on Azhar.

Analysts argue protecting Azhar and by extension Pakistan suits China’s aim to keep India “boxed in” in troubled South Asia, stymying its bid to grow as a regional power with the potential to challenge China.

In response to another question on Modi’s criticism of Pakistan, Hua said, “...India and Pakistan, the two countries are close neighbours of China. We truly hope they can resolve differences in a peaceful way through dialogue and consultation, so that India and Pakistan relations can develop. This serves the interest of the two countries and the region.”

That China would not back India’s position on terrorism emanating from Pakistan at the BRICS summit was clear when China’s vice foreign minister Li Baodong said last week: “There should be no double standards on counter-terrorism. No one should pursue own political gains in the name of counter-terrorism.”

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