China 'willing' to play 'constructive role'in improving India-Pak ties

Sends PLA personnel to man 1st overseas base in Indian Ocean region
Report by: 
Agencies
Beijing
12 Jul 2017

China said today that it was willing to play a "constructive role" in improving relations between India and Pakistan, especially after the increased hostility along the LoC, saying the situation in Kashmir has attracted "international" attention.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said India and Pakistan are important South Asian countries but the "situation in Kashmir has attracted the attention of the international community." India has maintained that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral matter with Pakistan, and that there is no scope for third party mediation. The Chinese comments on Kashmir aimed at getting involved in Indo-Pak tensions come at a time the armies of India and China are locked in a standoff in Doklam area in the Sikkim section.

Beijing has previously refrained from commenting on the situation in Kashmir, saying the dispute was a "leftover from history" and should be resolved by India and Pakistan. Expressing concern over the tension between India and Pakistan, Geng said: "the conflict occurred near the Line of Control of Kashmir. This will not only harm the peace and stability of the two countries but also the peace and tranquillity of the region." "We hope the relevant sides can do more things that are conducive for peace and stability in the region and avoiding escalating the tensions and China is willing to play constructive role in improving relations between India and Pakistan," he told reporters.

The rare Chinese comments on the Kashmir issue also come two days after a Chinese analyst wrote in the state-run Global Times that a "third country's" Army could enter Kashmir at Pakistan's request, using the "logic" the Indian Army used to stop the Chinese military from constructing the road in Doklam area. Geng's comments were in reply to a question on the tension between India and Pakistan, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressing concern over the situation in Kashmir, and whether China can play role to defuse the hostility between the two countries.

Meanwhile, China has dispatched PLA personnel to man its first overseas military base at Djibouti in the strategic Indian Ocean region, a move which is likely to spark concerns in the US and India. Ships carrying Chinese military personnel departed Zhanjiang in southern China's Guangdong Province yesterday to set up a support base in Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. China, however, today sought to play down reports that its naval facility at Djibouti was its first military base. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing that the Djibouti base is a support base which will serve Chinese troops when they escort ships for anti- piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, perform humanitarian rescue, and carry out other international obligations.

The base will be conducive to driving Djibouti's economic and social development, and assist China's contribution to peace and stability both in Africa and worldwide, he claimed.