China again blocks bid in UN to list Masood Azhar as a global terrorist

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New Delhi: China on Thursday blocked a bid at the United Nations by the US, France and Britain to list Maulana Masood Azhar, chief of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant group, as a global terrorist, citing a lack of consensus among the members of the UN Security Council.

A veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has repeatedly blocked India’s move to designate Azhar a terrorist under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.

The block comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping is beginning his second five-year term after the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress last month. The Chinese block is seen as one of the irritants in the India-China bilateral relationship.

The JeM, founded by Azhar, has already been in the UN’s list of banned terror outfits.

“China has rejected the move as there is no consensus,” people aware of the matter in the Chinese foreign ministry told PTI in Beijing.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar expressed deep disappointment at the Chinese move.

“We are deeply disappointed that once again, a single country has blocked international consensus on the designation of an acknowledged terrorist and leader of UN-designated terrorist organization, Masood Azhar,” Kumar said. “India strongly believes that double standards and selective approaches will only undermine the international community’s resolve to combat terrorist. We can only hope that there will be a realization that accommodating with terrorism for narrow objectives is both short sighted and counter productive,” Kumar said.

In August, China extended by three months its technical hold on the proposal backed by US, France and Britain to name Azhar a global terrorist after blocking the move in February.

Thursday’s move indicates China aims to ensure that the application to name Azhar a terrorist lapses—making it the second year in a row that China has blocked the resolution.

Last year, China had stalled an India-sponsored attempt to get Azhar listed as a terrorist.

That China would block the move became apparent earlier this week when Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that “we raised a technical hold so as to allow more time for the committee and its members to deliberate on this matter. But there is still absence of consensus on this matter,” Hua had said.

Defending China’s consistent technical holds, Hua had said China’s actions are meant to ensure and safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council.

“We will continue to follow the mandate of the Committee and its rules of procedure and remain in constant communication and coordination with the members of the Committee,” she had said.

China in the past had asked India to discuss the issue directly with Pakistan in order to reach an understanding on Azhar’s listing.

Last year in March, China was the only member in the 15-nation UN Security Council to put a hold on India’s application.

The other 14 members supported New Delhi’s bid to place Azhar on the sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban.

Azhar is accused of several terrorist attacks in India, including one on the Pathankot air force station in January 2016.