China seeks face-saving formula on Masood Azhar

The Azhar case has posed a serious challenge to China’s international image ahead of the Belt and Road Forum that it is holding in Beijing between April 25 and 27.

China seeks face-saving formula on Masood Azhar
BEIJING: China is looking for a formula that would save face for Beijing in Pakistan if it does an about turn on the Masood Azhar issue.

The Azhar case has posed a serious challenge to China’s international image ahead of the Belt and Road Forum that it is holding in Beijing between April 25 and 27, informed sources in Beijing said.

The most important project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is in Pakistan which is also seen in many places as an exporter of terror.


China is giving out signals that it is reviewing its own stance about blocking efforts by India, the US and other countries to get the United Nations to declare Jaish-e-Mohammed head Masood Azhar a global terrorist.

“We are also having communication with relevant parties and the matter is moving towards the direction of settlement (sic). Regarding what you said, relevant parties are forcing a new resolution through the Security Council,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

Lu added, “On the issue of the listing of Masood Azhar, China’s position remains unchanged.” But China is known to say this about almost all international matters even when it is changing its approach to certain issues.
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Changing its stance towards Azhar, which has protected both Pakistan and the Jaish chief for years, is going to be difficult for Beijing. The Pakistani military checks the possible flow of Taliban influence into the troubled Chinese border region of Xinjiang which has seen a lot of terrorism.

Before changing its stance on Azhar, China needs a good enough explanation to not just get the Pakistani government and military to accept it but also sell the idea to the media and public in Pakistan.

Most importantly, Beijing wants to make sure that a change in stance does not result in anger and put Chinese workers in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor at risk.
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