Masood Azhar is a terrorist, Beijing should 'adjust' its stand, says ex-Chinese diplomat

BEIJING: In a rare case of dissent against official policy, a former Chinese diplomat who served in India has sought a change in China's repeated efforts to block India's bid to slap a UN ban on Jaish-e-Muhammad leader Masood Azhar.

Mao Siwei - who previously served as China's Consul General in Kolkata - has argued that Azhar is a terrorist and Beijing should "adjust" its stand accordingly.

In his lengthy blog on social media WeChat public account about the India-China stalemate over Azhar, Siwei said China should take advantage of India's complaint against Azhar and "get rid of the passive diplomatic situation" between the two countries.

The blog was published on December 28, two days before China refused to lift its technical hold on India's application, allowing it to lapse, Siwei highlighted the history of Pakistan-based terror organisations Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e- Muhammad and how they carried out violent attacks whenever India and Pakistan made efforts to normalise their relations.

"As a result of (China's technical hold), the issue of sanctions against Azhar became a major issue affecting Sino- Indian relations and constitutes an important factor for the decline of Sino-Indian relations in 2016," he wrote.

Referring to the Indian evidence furnished against Azhar in Pathankot terror attack, he cited the chargesheet that the evidence included Facebook and telephone records as well as DNA samples obtained from food wrapping paper and a walkie-talkie.

"In the light of the above, I deeply feel that now is the time China should take India's complaint as an opportunity to seriously study and adjust the position, get rid of the passive diplomatic situation, on the listing of JeM chief in the (UN) 1267 list," he wrote.

"First, is Azhar a terrorist? Second, was the Pathankot attack perpetrated by the Jaish-e-Mohammed group? To the first question, the answer should be yes," he said.

Siwei's appeal went unheeded. But it reflected a different opinion among sections of China's diplomatic community, which is concerned over the negative fallout of the issue on India- China ties and Beijing's claims that it followed a "very objective, just and professional attitude" in blocking India's application at the UN.

Responding to remarks made by External Affairs Minister of State MJ Akbar on the Azhar issue, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters here yesterday that "we have taken a responsible and constructive part in relevant discussion in a professional and objective way".

PTI's efforts to reach Siwei, a prolific commentator on India-China ties in the Chinese social media, weren't immediately acknowledged.

Siwei has served as Consulate General of China's Consulate in Kolkata between 2007 to 2010. Before that, Mao also worked as a diplomat in Chinese Embassy in New Delhi and served as a visiting scholar at JNU, Delhi.