China again vetoes sanctions on JeM chief

Jaish’s chief Masood Azhar

Defying global opposition, China has vetoed sanctions against Masood Azhar, the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), extending cover to him and Pakistan that protects him.

On Wednesday, China was the only Security Council member to oppose the proposal spearheaded with renewed vigour by France with British and US backing at the al-Qaeda sanctions committee to declare him a global terrorist and impose sanctions on him.

Wednesday was the deadline to take a decision in the current cycle and because of Beijing’s veto – officially known as a technical hold – the proposal will remain on hold for at least three months.

In New Delhi, the External Affairs Ministry expressed disappointment over the outcome.

The US had said on Tuesday that China’s opposition to designating Azhar as an international terrorist runs counter to the mutual goal with the US of regional stability.

As the founder and leader of JeM, Azhar “meets the criteria for designation by the United Nations” for a global terrorist subject to its sanctions, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said.

Before Azhar’s case was taken up by the committee, Beijing indicated it would block the sanctions on him.

Using convoluted diplomatic language, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters in Beijing, “China will continue to adopt responsible attitude and participate in the deliberations in the UNSC 1267 Committee” and “engage in consultations with various parties and properly deal with this issue”.

Last week, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou visited Pakistan for talks with that nation’s leaders. He declared that Beijing was Islamabad’s time-tested friend and woul stand by it.