In what is being seen as a snub to the visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, China has significantly modified its position on the Kashmir issue by omitting its recent references to the UN charter and Security Council resolutions to the matter. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said yesterday that New Delhi and Islamabad should take the bilateral route to resolve all issues. He said, China calls on India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue and consultation on all issues, including the Kashmir issue, and consolidate mutual trust. This is in line with interest of both countries and common aspiration of the world, he said.
The statement is a departure from the position that Beijing took when Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had visited China after abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A on August 5. China yesterday indicated that it is ready to go back to its pre-August 5 position when it had held that the Kashmir issue should be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan. The omission of references to the UN charter and Security Council resolutions particularly assume significance at a time when Imran Khan and Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa are in Beijing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders. By changing its position, China seems to be in agreement with the Indian stand that there should be no third-party mediation on the Kashmir issue.
Explaining Beijing’s changed position, observers said supporting Pakistan’s position on Kashmir might make it difficult for Mr Xi to make his India visit successful. Also, by changing its position, China is trying to soften Pakistan’s rhetoric on the Kashmir issue.