Chinese President Xi Jinping assured Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday, 9 October, that the friendship between China and Pakistan is “unbreakable and rock-solid” despite changes in the international and regional situation.
At a meeting with Khan, Xi also reportedly said he was watching the Kashmir issue closely and would back Pakistan “in issues related to its core interests”.
India, on Wednesday, reacted sharply to reports of Xi and Khan discussing Kashmir, saying Beijing is “well aware” of New Delhi’s position and it is not for other countries to comment on its internal affairs.
China-Pak Friendship ‘Rock-Solid’
Xi made the remarks when he met Khan at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, two days before he leaves for India to hold the second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, PTI reported.
Xi said China is ready to work with Pakistan to forge a closer China-Pakistan community of shared future in the new era, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.
Noting that China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners, Xi said, “No matter how the international and regional situation changes, the friendship between China and Pakistan has always been unbreakable and rock-solid, and China-Pakistan cooperation has always maintained strong vitality.”
Khan’s visit to China, third since he took over as Prime Minister in August last year, acquires significance as it comes ahead of President Xi’s high-profile visit to India for the second informal summit with Prime Minister Modi at Mamallapuram near Chennai on 11 and 12 October, reported PTI.
China to Support Pak In Issues
Khan’s visit to Beijing comes at a time when tensions have spiked between Pakistan and India after New Delhi ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August.
Beijing, the all-weather ally of Islamabad, has backed Pakistan over the Kashmir issue, with its Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his address to the UN General Assembly saying, “no actions that would unilaterally change the status quo should be taken”.
On Wednesday, Xi reportedly said that he was watching the situation in Kashmir and added that China would “support Pakistan in issues related to its core interests”, Reuters reported, quoting the official Xinhua News Agency.
According to the report by Xinhua, Xi told PM Khan during a meeting that “the right and the wrong” of the matter was clear.
However, he added that the two countries should resolve the dispute through peaceful dialogue.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Tuesday had also said the Kashmir issue should be resolved between New Delhi and Islamabad, significantly omitting its recent references to the UN and UN Security Council resolutions, according to PTI.
Geng’s comments marked a significant shift on what China has been saying on Kashmir in recent weeks in the aftermath of India’s move to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution.
India has categorically told the international community that its move to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution revoking the special status to Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter. India maintains Kashmir is a bilateral issue and no third party has any role in it.
Position Is Consistent: India Responds to Xi
In response to a query from the media on the reference to Kashmir in the meeting between Xi Jinping and PM Imran Khan, Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar reiterated India’s position on Kashmir. He also pointed out that China was well aware of India’s position on the issue as well.
“We have seen the report regarding meeting of Chinese President Xi Jinping with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan which also refers to their discussions on Kashmir,” Kumar said.
“India’s position has been consistent and clear that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India. China is well aware of our position. It is not for other countries to comment on the internal affairs of India,” he added.
Will Help Pak Develop Faster and Better
During his meeting with Khan, Xi said China sincerely hopes to help Pakistan develop faster and better.
China and Pakistan have a fine tradition of mutual support and assistance, Xi said, according to Xinhua.
Noting that Pakistan used to provide “selfless help” to China when China was in difficulties, Xi said now that China has developed, it sincerely hopes to help Pakistan develop faster and better.
In Islamabad, the PM Office in a press release said Khan thanked Xi and the Chinese government for its “principled stance” on the Kashmir issue, PTI reported.
The premier said that China had supported Pakistan in all difficult times.
According to the press release, Prime Minister Khan briefed Xi about the current situation in the country, sharing that Pakistan had come out of a difficult economic situation, PTI reported.
“We will never forget China’s financial cooperation in this regard,” he was quoted as saying, adding that China had helped Pakistan without “any conditionality”.
PM Khan Praises China
Prime Minister Khan said that China provided Pakistan with the opportunity to come out of a very difficult economic situation and appreciated the Chinese support under the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework.
It said President Xi lauded Khan for speaking about Pakistan-China relations during the UNGA, and said that both countries enjoy close friendly relations and cooperated with each other in different fields.
Prime Minister Khan, who is on a two-day visit to China, met his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang on Tuesday. Khan was accompanied by Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa during his meeting with Li.
(With inputs from PTI and Reuters.)