China on Wednesday said that “unilateral” changes India made to the status of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir by splitting it into two separate union territories in 2019 were illegal and invalid.
China also called on India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute over Kashmir through dialogue and consultations.
Jammu and Kashmir ceased to be a state and became two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh – in October, three months after Parliament revoked the special status enjoyed by the former state under Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5 last year.
Responding to a query on the impact of New Delhi’s decision one year later, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that Beijing has been closely following the situation in Kashmir.
“China follows closely the situation in the Kashmir region. China’s position on the Kashmir issue is clear and consistent. This issue is a dispute leftover from history between Pakistan and India. That is an objective fact as laid out by the UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions and the bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India,” spokesperson Wang said at the regular ministry briefing on Wednesday.
He was responding to a question from the Associated Press of Pakistan on the change of Kashmir’s status.
“Any unilateral change to the status quo is illegal and invalid. This issue should be properly resolved peacefully through dialogue and consultations between the parties concerned,” Wang said.
Wang added that Pakistan and India are neighbours “…that cannot be moved away. Co-existence serves the fundamental interests of both and the common aspiration of the international community.”
China hopes, Wang said, that the two countries could properly handle differences through dialogue, improve relations and jointly safeguard peace, security and development of both countries and the wider region.
Wang did not separately mention the areas over which New Delhi and Beijing have disputes in the region.
Last year, China had called the move “unacceptable”, urging New Delhi to respect Chinese territorial sovereignty and uphold peace and tranquility in the border areas.
Beijing had then referred to the disputed territory of Aksai Chin, which China controls but New Delhi claims as part of the new union territory of Ladakh.
India had then rejected Beijing’s criticism, saying the proposal to form new UTs including that of Ladakh was an “internal matter”.
New Delhi had also pointed out the two sides had agreed to maintain peace along their disputed border until a mutually acceptable solution is found to the issue.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar had visited Beijing in August and explained India’s position, saying that the change in the administrative status of the region did not impact the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de facto border with China.HT