Earlier this week, China blocked a proposal by the United States and India in the United Nations to blacklist Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's Abdul Rauf Azhar, citing "technical" reasons.
If the proposal had been passed, it would have imposed asset freezes, travel bans, and arms embargoes on Abdul Rauf Azhar, the brother of Masood Azhar who was the founder and leader of JeM.
According to the Indian government, Azhar was involved in the planning and execution of the 1999 Indian Airlines flight IC-814 attack, the 2001 Parliament attack, and the 2016 attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot.
All other 14 member states of the United Nations Security Council were supportive of the listed proposal.
In her statement to the UN, Indian Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said that China must stop placing holds on requests made at the UN without justification.
"Double standards and continuing politicisation have rendered the credibility of the Sanctions Regime at an all-time low. We do hope that all members of the UNSC can pronounce together in one voice, sooner than later, when it comes to this collective fight against international terrorism," she added.
China, on the other hand, defended its decision on Thursday, 11 August. "We need more time to assess the application to sanction this individual," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters.
We have "always strictly followed the rules and procedures of the committee and in a constructive and responsible manner participated in its work. We hope other members will also do the same," Wang added.
This is not the first time that China has engaged in something like this. Despite claiming to be serious about tackling Islamic terror, why has China on multiple occasions refused to vote in favour of putting terrorists belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (both based in Pakistan) on the global terror list?
China Has a Knack for This
Nearly two months ago, in June, China blocked a joint proposal by India and the United States to list Abdul Rehman Makki as a global terrorist under the UNSC's ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee. It is also known as the UN Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee.
Makki is the cousin and brother-in-law of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, co-founder of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba which has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the UNSC, the US, and India, among others.
Back in 2019, China had once again prevented the UN Security Council from blacklisting Azhar, shortly after the JeM attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy in Pulwama district, Kashmir.
The attack had killed 40 Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel as well as the suicide bomber. JeM had claimed responsbiity for the attack. This led to the Balakot airstrike in which India attacked a JeM training camp and reportedly killed between 300-350 terrorists.
Prior to 2019, China had twice prevented the UN Sanctions Committee from sanctioning Azhar, that is in 2016 and 2017.
Why China Supports Pakistan
Both countries are close allies for quite a few reasons. The first reason is that India is percevied as a common enemy. But the China-Pakistan relationship goes beyond the old proverb, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
Pakistan happens to be the largest buyer of Chinese weapons, accounting for nearly 47 percent of the latter's arms exports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. With respect to trade, China is Pakistan's second largest partner after the United States.
Perhaps most importantly, China supports Pakistan because it wants to secure its border with Afghanistan, that is, around the Wakhjir Pass, the only navigable pass between the countries, given the sovereign borders of south Asia that exist currently.
It links the mountainous part of Wakhan in Badakshan province to the Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County in Xinjiang. Xinjiang is where China claims to have its own security concerns regarding Islamic extremists.
China knows that Pakistan has considerable influence in the politics and security of Afghanistan and would like to make use of that leverage to meet its own ends.