China Says ‘Positive Progress’ Made In Masood Azhar Listing Case, Blames US For UN Move

China said on Monday that “positive progress” has been made in resolving the issue of designating Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the United Nations. China tried pointing towards a resolution of the problem souring Sino-India bilateral ties.

The Chinese foreign ministry accused the US of complicating the matter by taking Azhar’s listing directly to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) saying the US move is against peace in south Asia.

“After the application for designation of Azhar was proposed (in the 1267 committee), China is in close communication and coordination with various parties and made positive progress. The US knows that very well,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at the regular media briefing on Monday.

The ministry, however, didn’t share details on what exact “progress” had been made in the case, keeping its views on the subject cryptic.

Asked to clarify whether the progress he meant was to resolve the issue of listing Azhar, Geng said: “Yes. The US knows that very well”.

“We believe under the current circumstances forcing a draft resolution at the (UN) Security Council is not a constructive move and set a bad example,” Geng said, referring to Washington’s move to take the case directly to the UNSC.

“We hope various parties will meet each other half way and continue to properly solve this issue under the 1267 Committee framework. Last Friday, UNSC members exchanged views on the US proposed draft resolution. The majority believes that efforts should be made to solve the issues under 1267 Committee framework,” Geng added.

The foreign ministry spokesperson criticised Washington for pushing the UNSC to adopt the draft resolution.

“They are not in favour of forcing the draft resolution. China has been working with various parties and is making progress. The US knows that very well and yet, it insists on pushing the (UN) Security Council to adopt the draft resolution,” he said.

“This cannot be justified and is not in accordance with the rules and practices of the Security Council. It is setting a bad example that will only complicate the matter. It is also not conducive for peace and stability in south Asia. China is opposed to this,” he said.

To another question whether the US is making efforts to list Azhar by bypassing procedures to benefit the ruling BJP in India’s upcoming general elections, Geng reiterated that Washington’s stand is not conducive to peace and stability in south Asia but refused to comment on the elections.

“It is setting a bad example that will only complicate the matter. It is also not conducive for peace and stability in south Asia. The general election is the domestic affair of India. We do not comment on that,” he said.

Last week, China said the US has complicated the issue of listing Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Azhar as a global terrorist by moving a separate resolution at the UNSC, bypassing the anti-terror committee in the UN itself where Beijing has repeatedly blocked the listing process.

Beijing’s sharp reaction came after the US, supported by France and the UK, moved a draft resolution at the UNSC to list Azhar.

Azhar-led JeM took responsibility of the Pulwama attack in February in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. Since then Islamabad has been under renewed pressure to act on terror and New Delhi has been carrying out an international campaign to get Azhar listed.

China, however, has been unmoved in its decision to block Azhar’s listing in the UN sanctions committee.

China has so far blocked the move four times.

In March, Beijing blocked a resolution by the US, UK and France in the counter-terrorism 1267 committee with “technical hold” saying that it gives needs time to countries to discuss the listing.

“Since China needs more time to conduct an in-depth and comprehensive review, we put forward a technical hold to the relevant listing on March 13th. This is in line with the rule of procedures of this committee and there are some precedent cases of such technical holds,” spokesperson Geng had said last week.

China Again Backs JeM Chief Masood Azhar, Defies Naming Him As ‘Global Terrorist’

In India’s bid to name Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, China again on Wenesday defied from supporting it. It has succeeded in putting a technical hold on a proposal in the UN Security Council to ban him. 

A diplomat at the UN told PTI that China put a “technical hold”.

The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, the UK and the US on 27 February, days after a suicide bomber of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 44 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, leading to a flare-up in tensions between India and Pakistan.

The Ministry of External Affairs, while reacting to China’s decision, said that it was “disappointed by this outcome”.

“This has prevented action by the international community to designate the leader of (JeM), a proscribed and active terrorist organisation which has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir on 14 February 2019.”

MEA said in a statement, as per ANI. 

The Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee members had 10 working days to raise any objections to the proposal.

Fourth Bid in 10 Years

The no-objection period deadline was scheduled to end at 3 PM local time (New York) Wednesday, (12:30 AM IST Thursday).

Just before the close of the deadline, China put a hold on the proposal. The diplomat said China asked for “more time to examine” the proposal.

The proposal was the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist.

The Committee makes its decisions by consensus of its members.

All eyes were on China, which has in the past blocked India’s bids to get Azhar listed as a UN-designated global terrorist thrice.

According to the listing rules of the Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee, if no objection is received by the end of the no-objection period, the decision will be deemed adopted.

As it has done in the past, Beijing put a technical hold on the proposal just as the deadline was about to end.

China Always Adopts a Responsible Attitude

An inkling of China’s stand on the issue came during Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang’s press conferences on Monday and Wednesday in Beijing when he was asked about the proposal to list Azhar as a global terrorist by the UNSC.

“The UN Security Council and its subsidiary bodies are run on strict rules… We already stressed China’s position on the listing of terrorist organisations and individuals in the UN Security Council 1267 Committee on many occasions,” Lu said on Monday.

“China will continue to adopt responsible attitude and participate in the deliberations in the UNSC 1267 Committee,” Lu said on Wednesday.

On the issue of listing Azhar, he said, “I want to say that China always adopts a responsible attitude, engage in consultations with various parties and properly deal with this issue.”

“The discussions, I want to say must follow the rules and procedures of the relevant bodies and only the solution that is acceptable to all sides is conducive for resolving the issue,” he said, indicating that Beijing may again block the move to list Azhar as a global terrorist.

According to sources, the statement of the case of the latest proposal by France mentioned that JeM had taken responsibility for the Pulwama suicide attack on February 14 in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed.

China May Again Block JeM Chief Masood Azhar’s Listing As UN- Designated Terrorists

The UN Security Council is to take up a resolution on naming the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. Prior to this, China on Wednesday gave hinta that it is likely to block the decision again, saying only “the solution that is acceptable to all sides” is conducive to resolve the issue. 

The fate of the proposal to designate Pakistan-based Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council will be known in less than 24 hours when the deadline to raise objections to the bid expires. 

The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 al-Qaida sanctions committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, UK and the US on February 27. 

“I could reiterate that China will continue to adopt responsible attitude and participate in the deliberations in the UNSC 1267 Committee,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here.

China, a veto-wielding member of the UNSC, has blocked the move by India and other member nations three times in the past to designate Azhar. 

China has been insisting that the solution should be acceptable to all. 

Asked to clarify whether the issue has been listed for discussion for March 13 and China is in talks with all the parties concerned, Lu said, “First I want to clarify that I don’t recall saying anything about the deadline about the UNSC committee and other UN subsidiary bodies”. 

On the issue of listing Azhar, he said, “I want to say that China always adopts a responsible attitude, engage in consultations with various parties and properly deal with this issue.”

“The discussions, I want to say must follow the rules and procedures of the relevant bodies and only the solution that is acceptable to all sides is conducive for resolving the issue,” he said. 

Recently, China’s vice foreign minister Kong Xuanyou travelled to Pakistan and held talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other officials. 

India on Saturday said all UNSC members were aware about the JeM training camps and the presence of terror group’s chief Masood Azhar in Pakistan, and urged them to designate him as a global terrorist. 

The JeM, headed by the 50-year-old Azhar, carried out many terror strikes in India and was involved in the attack on Parliament, the Pathankot air force base, army camps in Jammu and Uri. It also claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama suicide attack which left 40 CRPF personnel dead.

China Calls Pakistan Its ‘All- Weather Strategic Partner’

Calling Pakistan as its ‘all- weather’ strategic partner on Thursday, China said that Pakistan applaudes on China’s “unbiased attitude”. 

Pakistan hopes Beijing and other members of the international community to play a “constructive role” in diffusing tensions between India and Pakistan, said China. 

China’s comments come ahead of the United Nations Security Council’s March 13 deadline for any country to raise objections against the proposal to list Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’. The proposal is sponsored by France and co-sponsored by the US and the UK. However, China maintained Thursday that it believed a country’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity” should be upheld.

Speaking about Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou’s visit to Pakistan, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said the “main mission” for the visit was to exchange views on the situation between India and Pakistan.

He said that Kong had met with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of Staff of the Army and the Foreign Minister. “He stressed that China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners. We comment that Pakistan has been restrained and calm and tried to ease the tension,” Lu said.

Further, he said that China calls on both India and Pakistan to refrain from aggravating the situation, to “uphold regional peace and stability” through dialogue at an early date. “And China will continue to play a constructive role. Pakistan also appreciates China’s unbiased attitude and Pakistan also stressed that it is not willing to see rising tensions. It is willing to resolve the problem with India and hopes that China and other members of the international community can play a constructive role in this process,” Lu said.

Responding to a question at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ briefing here, on whether Kong raised questions about terrorism radiating from Pakistani soil, Lu said the Vice Foreign Minister held in-depth talks in Pakistan on the situation and the tensions between India and Pakistan.

“So the major concern is the security situation in the region. Recently a lot has happened in this region and they are many issues. China has stated our position. The first, the sovereignty and territorial integrity should be upheld. And as to specific issue like whether we believe, we should take positive measures to ease the tensions, so as to maintain peace and stability in this region. This is a general issue. We believe that Vice Foreign Minister will hold an extensive and in-depth talk with his counterparts,” he said.

China Asks India To Allow Duty- Free Imports Of 85% Products

China has sought from India a duty- free import of 85% of its products into the country’s  market. This is pressuring policymakers as they are holding and fighting with the complex negotiations for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in order to mend the world’s largest free- trade agreement. 

India has offered to open up 74% of its market to Chinese goods in a phased manner but Beijing is not satisfied with the proposal. During bilateral discussions with China, officials were told that the Asian giant was willing to give duty-free access to 92% of Indian exports, provided New Delhi raised the bar by opening up more.

Compared to other countries where over 90% of imports can come duty-free, India has offered lower concessions to China. Even the current offer is fraught with the risk of goods from across the border swamping Indian markets and further impacting the massive trade deficit, which was estimated at $63 billion during the last financial year.

But officials conceded that there is little option before India but to open up its market gradually with a long tariff phase-out period so that domestic players have time to adjust to competition. “We have opportunities in segments where China may be a dominant player. Plus, we are seeking up to 20 years to dismantle the import duties,” said a senior trade official.

The domestic industry is, however, not entirely convinced with the need to push a massive trade opening up. 

Talks for RCEP have been underway for over six years now but India is seen to be holding up a deal, given its worry over cheap imports entering the country and wiping out several sectors. Apart from India and China, Asean members, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea are negotiating a deal, with 2019 being the latest deadline to clinch a deal. 

During a meeting last week, trade ministers from the 16 countries vowed to intensify negotiations to conclude talks over the next few months. A final decision on the detailed sectoral concessions that are to be offered as part of the opening up is only expected after a new government assumes office this summer but the direction is towards further liberalisation.

US Prez Trump Delays China Tariffs, Gold Prices Rise, Dollar Falls Against Yuan

Gold prices hiked on Monday as the dollar droped against the yuan after US President Donald Trump declared that he would delay a surge in tariffs on Chinese goods, while palladium prices rose at a higher record. 

Spot gold rose 0.3 per cent to $1,331.43 per ounce at 0348 GMT. U.S. gold futures were up 0.1 per cent at $1,333.50.

The offshore yuan strengthened 0.2 per cent to 6.685 yuan against the dollar, after hitting its highest level since mid-July, on the news that Trump will not raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.

Trump said on Sunday that he would delay an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods that had been scheduled for later this week, citing “substantial progress” in U.S.-China trade talks over the weekend and that he and his Chinese counterpart would meet to seal a deal if progress continued.

“The dollar is weaker today after Trump’s extension of tariff deadline,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, OANDA.

“Gold, as it moves into the European and New York trading session, might come under pressure from the stock market,” Halley said, adding that there won’t be any sustained downward pressure until there is more information on the trade deal.

Asian shares scaled a 5-month peak after Trump’s decision to extend the deadline improved appetite for riskier assets. Gains in equity markets tend to decrease appeal for gold, considered a safe store of value during economic and political uncertainty.

“Gold prices, though hinting for a looming bearish correction on risk-on market sentiments, will remain firmly supported on rising economic uncertainties and heightened geopolitical risks in 2019,” Benjamin Lu, an analyst with Singapore-based Phillip Futures said in a note.

Meanwhile, spot palladium traded as high as $1,506.50 per ounce, propelled by a stark supply deficit, and was last up 0.4 per cent at $1,503.50. Platinum, which rose to its highest since late November, was up 0.8 per cent at $847.50 per ounce.

The platinum group metals (PGM) continued to rise as supply risks increased after South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) planned to extend a strike from Sibayne Gold to other PGM producers in the country, ANZ analysts said in a research note.

The AMCU has been on strike at Sibanye’s bullion operations since mid-November and plans to extend the strike to its platinum mines as well as all other mines where the AMCU has members. Elsewhere, spot silver rose 0.2 per cent to $15.95 per ounce.

China Signs UNSC Statement, Names Pakistan Based JeM

Marking a significant shift, China on Thursday signed on a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) statement which “condemned in the strongest terms” the last week’s Pulwama attacks in Jammu & Kashmir. 

The Pakistan-based jihadist group Jaish-e-Mohammad was named for the “heinous and cowardly suicide bombing”.

The statement is significant because China has singlehandedly blocked the listing of JeM chief Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” at the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 sanctions committee for the last 10 years. At least three attempts in the last decade — in 2009, 2016 and 2017 — have been blocked by Beijing at Pakistan’s behest.

Sources said France took the lead in issuing the statement at UNSC — which includes US, UK, Russia and China — that “urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Government of India and all other relevant authorities in this regard”. This is a reference to the Indian government’s efforts to list Azhar as a global terrorist.

Sources said that while Beijing agreed to name JeM, which is a UN-proscribed terrorist group since 2002, it has not yet yielded on Azhar’s listing.

The statement, which was issued late Thursday night, said “the members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir, which resulted in over 40 Indian paramilitary forces dead and dozens wounded on February 14, 2019, for which Jaish-e-Mohammad has claimed responsibility”.

“The members of the Security Council expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the Indian people and the government of India, and wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured,” it said.

It also said that the members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. “The members of the Security Council underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice,” it said.

The members of the Security Council reiterated that “any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed”.

They reaffirmed the need for all states to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and other obligations under international law, including international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.

After the Pulwama attack, the Chinese Foreign ministry spokesperson did not mention JeM or Azhar, Pakistan or even Kashmir. “China notes reports on the suicide terrorist attacks and (is) deeply shocked by the attack. We express deep condolences and sympathies to the injured and bereaved families. We firmly oppose and strongly condemn all forms of terrorism. We hope relevant regional countries will cooperate to cope with the threat of terrorism and jointly uphold regional peace and stability,” the spokesperson had said.

France- India Talks To Move UN Over Blacklisting JeM Chief Masood Azhar, China’s Take Awaits

The Diplomatic Advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron, Philippe Etienne had a talk with India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Tuesday over Jaish-e- Mohammad. The two decided to move a resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for including Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist”.

Sources said France will be moving a proposal in a “couple of days”. They said that more countries are likely to join in the next few days and conversations are taking place through diplomatic channels with other members of the UNSC.

Apart from P-5 countries, New Delhi is also in conversation with Indonesia, which is the chair of the UNSC resolution 1267 sanctions committee that covers terror groups, and vice-chairs, Russia and Peru, for moving the resolution.

This is the second time that France has decided to take the lead in getting Azhar listed after a similar attempt along with the US and the UK in 2017 was blocked by China.

The French side has also decided to push for keeping Pakistan on the “grey list” of countries at the meeting of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Paris this week. Pakistan was put on the FATF list in June 2018 and placed on notice to be blacklisted by October 2019 if it did not curb money laundering and terror financing. This, if implemented, has serious costs for Islamabad as it is trying to woo investors to Pakistan amid a dire economic situation.

New Delhi’s attempts to list Azhar at the UNSC have been repeatedly blocked by China. The most recent effort began after India blamed JeM for the attack on the IAF base in Pathankot on January 2, 2016, and proposed a month later to designate Azhar as a global terrorist. But China intervened at Pakistan’s behest and placed a technical hold on India’s move in March and again in October 2016. It subsequently used its veto power to block the proposal in December 2016, a day before the technical hold ended.

China again employed a technical hold and blocked a proposal put forward by the US, the UK and France on January 19, 2017, to designate Azhar as a terrorist. India had started pushing for Azhar’s listing since 2008-09, after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, and even then China had put a technical hold.

After the Pulwama attack, India had reiterated its appeal to all members of the international community to support the proposal to list terrorists, including Azhar, and to ban terrorist organisations operating from territories controlled by Pakistan.

The latest French initiative comes a day after Saudi Arabia signed off on a joint statement with Pakistan on the need to avoid “politicisation of the UN listing regime” — an apparent reference to India’s efforts to list Azhar. As the Saudi Crown Prince landed in Delhi Tuesday night for a two-day visit, the statement was seen as a snub to Delhi.

Beijing Slammed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Beijing on Tuesday slammed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for making “irresponsible remarks” after he criticized a Chinese court’s death sentence against a convicted Canadian drug smuggler.

Responding to Canada’s decision to update a travel advisory to warn citizens about the “risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws” in China, Hua said: “Canada should remind its own citizens to definitely not engage in drug smuggling in China”.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, was given the death penalty on Monday after his previous 15-year prison sentence was deemed too lenient a ruling that came amid a deepening diplomatic rift between Ottawa and Beijing.

Trudeau expressed “extreme concern” on Monday, saying “China has chosen to arbitrarily apply death penalties in cases, as in this case facing a Canadian”.

“We urge the Canadian side to respect the rule of law, respect China’s judicial sovereignty, correct their mistakes, and stop making such irresponsible remarks,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing.

Hua also dismissed suggestions by human rights groups that Beijing had seized on the case to put pressure on Ottawa over Canada’s arrest of a top executive of Chinese telecom giant Huawei in December.

“I think such remarks are malicious smearing and unwarranted accusations,” Hua said, adding that it is “extremely clear” which side is politicising judicial issues.

“China is safe, as long as the foreign citizens including Canadian citizens abide by China’s law and regulations,” she said.