Expressing hope for better bilateral ties between Pakistan and India, China has said that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) provides a framework for the two South Asian countries to strengthen cooperation
In a written response to The Hindustan Times, the Chinese foreign ministry hoped that the two countries will work together for regional peace and would find a solution to the Kashmir issue through bilateral dialogue, indicating that discussions on it have no place in a multilateral forum like the SCO.
After being included in the now-eight-member grouping last year, Pakistan and India are set to attend the SCO summit, scheduled to be held in Qingdao in eastern China on June 9 -10, for the first time.
Despite India’s opposition to its Belt and Road Initiative, China indicated that the SCO summit will not face any major hurdle, as the major infrastructure project matched the “strategies of various countries and regional cooperation initiatives”.
Ahead of the summit, experts voiced concerns that Pakistan and India could carry their baggage of hostility to the grouping. Pakistan could raise the Kashmir issue and in turn India could raise cross-border terrorism, disturbing unity of the grouping carefully nurtured by China and Russia.
However, the Chinese foreign ministry toned down the differences. “China’s position on the Kashmir issue is consistent. This issue is a legacy one between Pakistan and India,” it remarked on the Kashmir issue.
“Both Pakistan and India have formally joined the SCO and hope that the two countries will strengthen cooperation within the framework of SCO and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability,” it said.
On terrorism, the ministry reiterated China’s stance., saying: “China resolutely opposes terrorism in any forms and supports the international community in strengthening international counter-terrorism cooperation, forming a joint force, and working together to ensure security and stability regionally and globally.
“We believe that all member states will continue to promote the ‘Shanghai Spirit’, deepening solidarity and mutual trust, enhancing cooperation to a new level.”
The Chinese foreign ministry further said the inclusion of India and Pakistan in the SCO has expanded the bloc’s influence.
“After the joining of India and Pakistan as member countries, the SCO has become a very comprehensive regional cooperation organisation with the most extensive area, the largest population and greatest influence.”
It went on to say that the two countries have fully integrated into various cooperation mechanisms and have made great contributions to “deepening cooperation among member states in security, economy, humanities and other fields. All parties highly valued this.”