China preferred to go along with consensus, according to experts. This does not mean China would change its position on Masood Azhar.
Does the inclusion of Pakistan-based terror groups in this year’s BRICS declaration herald a significant shift in China’s approach on terrorism?
Before the Summit, Chinese officials and commentators were insistent that India “not sully the atmosphere” by raising terrorism by groups based in Pakistan. “Pakistan is at the forefront of counterterror efforts…” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was quoted as saying.
New Delhi, however, was clear they would raise its concerns. Therefore, the inclusion of these groups in the final document was a significant move.
According to sources, during the negotiations for the document, India proposed the language on terrorism, which, incidentally, was the same that was agreed during the Heart of Asia Declaration in Amritsar, to which China and Pakistan are both signatories.
During the discussions, China found that the other four countries wanted terror groups including Jaish and LeT named and condemned, and so was compelled to make a tactical concession, because there were no takers for its line that Pakistan was leading the fight against terrorism.
The BRICS document, however, does not mean China is ready to change its position on Jaish chief Masood Azhar. China can successfully defend its position in BRICS and its bilateral commitment to Pakistan, by keeping its hold on sanctions on Azhar at the UN.
Nevertheless, given the fact that at BRICS last year, China snubbed India for naming Pakistan the “mothership” of terrorism, this year’s statement is a big shift.
Some commentators attributed a Doklam effect to China’s amenable behaviour. But others said it was more likely that as the host of a big summit, China preferred to go along with consensus.