Beijing ‘highly concerned’ over Kashmir situation, China tells India


BEIJING: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday said China was highly concerned over the current situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir and escalating conflict between India and Pakistan.

During a meeting with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who is currently on a three-day visit to China, Wang Yi said China opposes any unilateral action that complicates the situation in the region.

New Delhi’s move to end the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir will change the status quo of the disputed area and result in a tense situation in the region, he added.

Wang Yi hoped that New Delhi and Islamabad would resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner.

He pointed out that India’s recent measures also challenged China’s sovereign rights and interests, contrary to the agreement between the two sides on safeguarding the border areas of the two countries.

“China is seriously concerned about this,” he said, adding that Indian measures will not change the fact that China exercises sovereignty over the relevant territory.

The Chinese foreign minister expressed his hope that New Delhi will take measures to promote mutual trust, peace and tranquillity.

Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar explained the position of his country, saying the Indian constitutional amendment did not produce new sovereignty or change the India-Pakistan ceasefire line, as well as the actual line of control, the India-China border.

The Indian side expressed hope for improvement in relations with Pakistan. The minister said that New Delhi was willing to exercise restraint and maintain regional peace and stability.

He assured his Chinese counterpart that Indian was also willing to properly resolve the border issue between India and China through consultations. He said News Delhi will abide by the consensus reached by the two countries on maintaining peace in border areas.

The Indian minister’s visit comes amid growing tensions between India and Pakistan over occupied Kashmir.

Last week, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi paid an emergency visit to China and briefed Wang on Islamabad’s stance over the prevailing situation.

An unprecedented security lockdown kept people in Indian-occupied Kashmir indoors for the ninth consecutive day on Tuesday.

Indian troops patrolling the disputed region had allowed some Muslims to walk to mosques to mark the Eidul Azha on Monday and shops had been opened briefly on previous days.

But residents are now running short of essentials under the near-constant curfew and communications blackout as India tried to stave off a violent reaction to the government’s decision August 5 to strip Kashmir of its autonomy.

Witnesses described hundreds of people chanting “We want freedom from India” and “Go India, go back” during a brief protest Monday. Officials said the protest ended peacefully.

The lockdown is expected to last at least through Thursday, India’s independence day.

Kashmiris fear India’s moves bringing the region under greater New Delhi control will alter its demographics and cultural identity.

India said its decisions to revoke Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrade it from statehood to a territory would free it from separatism.

Pro-freedom militants have been fighting Indian rule for decades. Some 70,000 people have died in clashes between militants and civilian protesters and Indian security forces since 1989. Most Kashmiris want independence.

India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir and have fought two wars over it. The first one ended in 1948 with the region divided between them and a promise of a UN-sponsored referendum on its future. It has never been held.

Islamabad has denounced the changes as illegal and in response has downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expelled the Indian ambassador and suspended trade and train services with India.