Is India’s Bigger Problem China?

China again put a technical hold on a bid to designate Azhar as a global terrorist. But was the move surprising?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) with Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) during a meeting. (Source: PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) with Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) during a meeting. (Source: PTI)

China once again blocked India’s push at United Nations to brand Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist even as India found support from several nations after the Pulwama terror attack.

The veto-holding permanent member of the UN Security Council voted a “technical hold” on a resolution on Azhar’s status stating it needs more time to study the matter. But was the move surprising?

To expect China to act otherwise would’ve been extremely optimistic in assessment, says Bharat Karnad, research professor for national security studies at Centre for Policy Research. “We are extremely gullible and naive when it comes to dealing with China and at being a player at the global power politics stage,” he said. To target Pakistan in effect means to target China because of Pakistan’s importance to Beijing in pursuing its South Asian interests, according to Karnad.

India’s lack of leverage against China and not exercising tit-for-tat methods over the years has been at the centre of India’s problems with the neighbour, Karnad said. Besides, according to him, China never assured it was going to be on India’s side in the first place to let it down.

The U.S, the U.K. and France moved a joint proposition to designate Masood Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council after Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for killing 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama.

“It would have been a symbolic victory if we had succeeded (to get Azhar designated as a global terrorist),” Sharat Sabharwal, former high commissioner to Pakistan, said. “It is a symbolic loss.”

Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at Woodrow Wilson Centre, said it would’ve been a rather “low-cost move” on China’s part to actually step back from blocking Azhar’s listing. Going by trade data, Pakistan’s dependence on China is much more than China’s on Pakistan, he said. According to Kugelman, Beijing would have lost little and gained more respect on the international stage.

Watch the full debate here: