It’s in contrast to its strong reaction to India’s Jammu and Kashmir reorganisation move last year

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. File   | Photo Credit: Reuters

It’s in contrast to its strong reaction to India’s Jammu and Kashmir reorganisation move last year

In contrast to the strong reaction to India’s Jammu and Kashmir reorganisation move last year, China on Wednesday refrained from voicing its opposition to Pakistan’s announced move to accord “provisional provincial status” to Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Also read: Gilgit-Baltistan to be a full province: Pakistan PM

In a more muted response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it had “noted relevant reports” and that “China’s position on the Kashmir issue is consistent and clear”.

“It is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan. It should be resolved peacefully and properly according to the charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements,” spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

His comments came in response to questions from Indian media at a regular press briefing. Unlike its statement on India in 2019, China did not issue a statement on Pakistan’s move to change the status of Gilgit-Baltistan, a disputed region where China is also carrying out projects under its China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan, which India has opposed.

Also read: Gilgit-Baltistan a part of India, says MEA

In August 2019, following the dilution of Article 370 and removal of special status for Jammu and Kashmir, China said it was “seriously concerned about the current situation in Jammu Kashmir”.

“China’s position on the Kashmir issue is clear and consistent,” the statement said then. “It is also an international consensus that the Kashmir issue is an issue left from the past between India and Pakistan. The relevant sides need to exercise restraint and act prudently. In particular, they should refrain from taking actions that will unilaterally change the status quo and escalate tensions. We call on both India and Pakistan to peacefully resolve the relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and safeguard peace and stability in the region.”

China had also opposed the creation of Ladakh as Union Territory. While Delhi had conveyed to Beijing the move neither changed external boundaries nor territorial claims, China said it was “always opposed to India’s inclusion of the Chinese territory in the western sector of the China-India boundary into its administrative jurisdiction” referring to Aksai Chin. The move, Beijing said, “undermined China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing domestic law”.

Also read: Gilgit-Baltistan: The land of peaks, streams and disputes

Asked on Wednesday if the difference in response suggested China did not follow “its professed neutral approach”, Mr. Wang said, “I don’t think that’s a valid statement. As I said just now, China’s position on the Kashmir issue is consistent and clear.”