Chinese Premier Li Keqiang says Beijing will support Pakistan in ‘safeguarding its territorial integrity’ but does not mention ally’s dispute with India Tensions between South Asian neighbours remain high after New Delhi moved to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status.
Beijing has vowed to support Pakistan in “safeguarding its independent sovereignty and territorial integrity” as Prime Minister Imran Khan began a two-day visit to China to win backing for his country’s stance on Kashmir.
Khan arrived in Beijing on Tuesday morning in his third visit to China since he became prime minister in August last year.
Premier Li Keqiang issued the statement of support, according to the official news agency Xinhua, saying: “China-Pakistan friendship enjoys a profound foundation and the two peoples enjoy traditional friendship.
“There are no strings attached to our relationship, and it is not targeted at any third party.”
Li added that cooperation between the two countries benefits regional stability.
Khan is also expected to meet President Xi Jinping during his visit and the topics for discussion will include Pakistan’s disputes with India and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project for the Belt and Road Initiative.
The project has already angered India, which described it as “illegal” because part of it passes through the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir, which both sides claim in full.
Tensions between the two sides also took a turn for the worst in August when New Delhi repealed the special constitutional status of Indian-controlled Kashmir and imposed a security crackdown.
In a statement published ahead of Khan’s visit, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “The Prime Minister will exchange views on regional developments including the state of peace and security in South Asia arising from the situation in occupied Jammu & Kashmir.”
China, which has its own territorial dispute with India in the region, has said it is “highly concerned” about Kashmir, and attempted to back Pakistan’s request for the United Nations Security Council to discuss India’s actions.
Yet, the Indian government has insisted the matter is purely an internal affair and said the decision “has no impact on China”.