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Millennium Post

Same story once again

Same story  once again

It is a familiar story. There seems to be no end to the impasse between India and China on critical issues including New Delhi's entry into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group or NSG and its demand to list Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist by United Nations, at their first strategic dialogue in Beijing on Wednesday. "The extent of JeM chief Masood Azhar's actions are 'well documented' and the 'burden of proof' is not on India," Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told reporters after the talks. Despite the support of the United States, France and the United Kingdom, China remains an obstacle in India's bid to include Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar among the United Nation's list of banned global militants.

Beijing's position on the issue has remained unchanged. Conditions to include Azhar's name in the list of global terrorists had not been fulfilled, adding that relevant parties had failed to reach a consensus till date. Beijing's opposition to the proposal imposes a "hold" period, which lasts for six months and can be extended by another three months. The proposal was moved after Washington, and New Delhi held meetings and decided that the Pakistan-based JeM was a designated militant outfit and hence, its leaders cannot travel freely. China has once again used its veto powers in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to keep Azhar off the designated list of terrorists, despite clear evidence of his role in the attack on Parliament in 2001, Pathankot airbase in January 2016 and the Indian Army camp in Uri late last year. It may indicate China's intention to support Pakistan at all costs, including terrorist leaders, and in contravention of their official stance against global terror. While the Jaish-e-Mohammed had been listed as a terrorist organisation since 2001, the group's chief and motivator have suffered no sanctions. Allied with their economic interests in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an underlying security angle. In the face of transnational terrorism sparked by ISIS, China's security establishment has thought it wise to use regional clients like Pakistan to contain the threat.

Nonetheless, it is imperative that we in India do not get too worked up. In his book, titled "Choices: Inside the Making of India's Foreign Policy", former national security advisor, Shivshanker Menon, says: "We should not flatter ourselves that China is fixated on encircling India. The drivers of Chinese foreign policy are likely to remain the quest for status and the acquisition of power — political, military, and economic. China has a greater goal, to become the preeminent power in the world, and India as a major power is dealt with as part of that strategy. In other words, India-China relations do not fall into a simple binary opposition but exhibit a complex interplay in political, economic, security, and other realms." In the statement released by both countries, there is an emphasis on "reducing misunderstandings and building more trust", as articulated by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Jaishankar, for his part, played down India's concerns over NSG and Azhar by saying "there are natural issues which neighbours have".

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