China’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Zhang Jun has said that China is seriously concerned about the current situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K). China has also voiced concerns over the situation in Kashmir prior to this but since August last year, this concern has further grown.
China: the third party in the Kashmir issue
In the west, the Kashmir dispute that has led to thousands of deaths is regarded as a problem between India and Pakistan. It is often forgotten that a significant part of Kashmir is controlled by neither – and is administered by the region’s other nuclear power. China has long been involved in a triangular relationship with Pakistan and India but remains a third party to the dispute over Kashmir.
The war in 1962 ended with China seizing about 38,000 square kilometres of territory that had been under Indian administration, and assimilating another 5,180 sq km of northern Kashmir that Pakistan granted it under the 1963 pact. However, the Indian government does not recognise the border agreement the Chinese reached with Pakistan over the section of Kashmir under Pakistani control.
Sino-Indian War over territory in Kashmir
In 1963, the Sino-Pakistan Agreement, which was meant to address border issues between the two nations, successfully quelled certain disagreements between Islamabad and Beijing—but also drew China even further into the Kashmir question. The agreement resulted in the two nations exchanging territory, and within the parcels given up by Pakistan was the Trans-Karakoram Tract. The tract is famously inhospitable but is also disputed territory, and India argued that Pakistan had no right to give it up to the Chinese because India itself still claims it.
It was no surprise that Pakistan solidified relationships with China in 1963. India fought an ill-fated war with China the previous year that permanently damaged the idea of Sino-Indian brotherhood, and Pakistan saw an opportunity to make common cause with an Asian ally. Turning a bilateral dispute into a trilateral one, with two of the sides strongly allied, was an obvious move.
China voices its concerns over Indian revoking of Kashmiri autonomy
Ending Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, on the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, has been a longtime goal for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in India since its creation and the party won two successive landslide victories in 2014 and 2019 partially based on its stance on this issue. In August 2019, the Indian parliament voted to abrogate Article 370.
That autonomy had always been somewhat illusory, but it was powerfully regarded within Kashmir—and India accompanied the change with a mass crackdown in the region, including cutting off the internet and arresting local politicians. The bill didn’t stop there. It also bifurcated the territory into two states—Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh—further cementing India’s control. China’s concern over the Kashmir issue has since then only deepened.
It is no secret that China has a vested interest in the Kashmir region, specifically in the Buddhist region of Ladakh, the territory that India has controversially assimilated.
According to the Associated Press of Pakistan, Zhang Jun said that India unilaterally changed the status quo of Kashmir through constitutional amendments in August 2019, stoking tensions in the region.
He said, a year later, there is no fundamental improvement but a risk of further escalation in the situation of Kashmir.
He said that China opposes unilateral actions that will complicate the situation and called on relevant parties to exercise restraint and act prudently.
When in August last year India revoked Article 370, China showed great concern. On Aug 5, 2019, the UN Security Council (UNSC) held an urgent meeting on Wednesday to review the situation arising out of the Aug 5, 2019, siege of Kashmir by India. The closed-door, 15-member meeting was held at the request of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Flash: Strong statement by India on China trying to raise Kashmir at UNSC. MEA says, "firmly reject China’s interference in our internal affairs and urge it to draw proper conclusions from such infructuous attempts" pic.twitter.com/nT6Nt8yQnu
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) August 6, 2020
China, which is a permanent member of the Security Council, played a key role in arranging the meeting to underline the international community’s concerns on the atrocities India was committing in the occupied valley. All 15 members participated in the debate. Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani of Indonesia, which holds the council’s presidency for August, presided the meeting.
China’s position on the issue
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin has said that any unilateral change to the status quo in the occupied Kashmir region by the Indian government is illegal and invalid. China’s concern of Kashmir issue can be highlighted by what Chinese Foreign minister said on the issue.
“China’s position on the Kashmir issue is clear and consistent. We call on India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue and consultation on all issues, including Kashmir issue, and consolidate mutual trust,” Geng Shuang said during a briefing.
During a news briefing, the spokesman said that China closely follows the situation in the Kashmir region. Our position on the Kashmir matter is consistent and clear, he clarified.
Wenbin said that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left over from history between Pakistan and India, which is an objective fact established by the United Nations Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements between the arch-rivals.
The Kashmir region issue should be properly and peacefully resolved through dialogue and consultation between the parties concerned, he suggested.