Chinese Stance in United Nations Security Council towards India
Dr Teshu Singh, Research Fellow, VIF

Amidst the on-going stand-off at the Galwan Valley, China had once again tried to raise the Kashmir issue in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Also, China has persistently tried to block India’s entry into the UNSC, Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and has supported Pakistani terror groups operating against India.

India was the only second non-communist country to recognise the People’s Republic of China. Since 1950, the bilateral relations have been marked by conflict and competition. In the early phase of the bilateral relations, India supported China’s candidature in the United Nations (UN). In 1950, the Indian delegation under the leadership of Shri B. N. Rau supported the representation of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations.1 At the 13th session of the UN, India's representative reaffirmed their support for China's claim to its rightful place in the World Organisation but the Assembly rejected the Indian proposal and adopted the US resolution.2 Informally, the US had made a proposition that China should be taken into the United Nations but not in the Security Council. Instead of China, India should be given that place.3

Evidently, China has overlooked India’s support to position her in the world organisation. As opposed to India’s endeavour, China has constantly shown a negative attitude towards India in the UN. On 6 August 2020, on the first anniversary of the abrogation of article 370, China once again tried to raise the issue of Kashmir in the UNSC. Earlier in January 2020, China attempted to once again internationalise the issue of Kashmir and sought ‘close door’ consultation under AOB (Any other Business) clause at the UNSC. The request was rejected as all the other 14 members of the UNSC believed that it was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

It may be recalled that on 5 August 2019, the Government of India announced the changes in the article 370 of the Indian Constitution that gave special status to the Jammu and Kashmir. According to the new law, Jammu and Kashmir are a Union Territory with Assembly and Ladakh will be a separate Union Territory with no legislature for the time being. The development led to different reactions from all the quarters of the world. While most of the countries supported the change, it was only Pakistan and China that had a negative opinion. Sri Lanka welcomed the formation of “Buddhist- majority Union Territory”. Russia supported India’s move and stated the change was “within the framework of the Constitution of India”. It was further supported by Poland which stated that Delhi and Islamabad should find a solution bilaterally.

China had the most aggressive posture towards the development and at the behest of Pakistan raised the issue in the UNSC. In due course, by raising the issue it had raised the issue of Ladakh and the status of Aksai Chin.4 On 6 August 2019, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Hua Chunying issued two statements on the development; first, on Jammu and Kashmir, she said: “The relevant sides need to exercise restraint and act prudently. In particular, they should refrain from taking actions that will unilaterally change the status quo and escalate tensions”.5 Second, on Ladakh, she mentioned, “China is always opposed to India's inclusion of the Chinese territory in the western sector of the China-India boundary into its administrative jurisdiction.”6

The Chinese media also criticised the development. On 15 August 2019, on the Independence Day of India, the China Daily published an article, ‘India's bet on Kashmir could prove dangerous’. In the article, the author explicates that India has ‘split’ Kashmir into two Union Territories and supported third-party arbitration.7 Lui Zongyi in his article, “Kashmir Issue Proves India Unqualified for UN Security Council Seat” goes on to argue that India has “trampled on the authority of the international organisation”. Hence, it is “unqualified” for a permanent seat in the UNSC.8 Several other articles were published critiquing India in the Chinese mainstream media.

Notably, by raising the issue of Ladakh, China had destroyed the spirit of the Astana Declaration which reiterates differences should not become disputes. The development is related to the internal developments of India and is akin to any other development that would take place in Xinjiang and Tibet in China.

Coincidentally, the Second-High level meeting was also scheduled during this time. Indian Foreign Minister took the opportunity to explain that the revoking of the special status of the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh will not affect the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The ‘bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir is India’s internal matter and has “no implication for either the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control with China”. India is “not raising any additional territorial claims” and that China’s apprehensions are “misplaced”. At the 4th India-China Media Forum, he reiterated that the two countries had agreed that the differences should not become disputes; this was to reassure that Union Territory status of Ladakh should not create any differences between the two countries.

Despite the briefing from the Indian side, overlooking and ignoring Indian concerns, China raised the issue in the UNSC. Although the discussion took place behind closed doors in New York, the Chinese Ambassador, Zhang Jun, spoke to the reporters after the deliberations, advising both India and Pakistan to abstain from any unilateral action that would aggravate the already “tense and very dangerous” situation;9 thus again demonstrating insensitivity to India’s concerns.

Blocking India’s Entry into the UNSC

China has been blocking, India’s entry in the UNSC while all the other four members –US, UK, France and Russia have backed India’s membership. In January 2020, Russia supported India’s candidature but China said all parties have "major differences" in the matter and instead advocated for a "package solution" that caters to the interest and concerns of all the parties through dialogues and consultations.10 In the various joint statements in 200511, 201512 and many other times, China has supported ‘India’s aspirations’ to play a bigger role at the world stage but has been quite ambiguous about supporting India’s candidature for the UNSC.

Stonewalling India’s entry in the NSG

China has been repeatedly blocking India’s entry into the Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG). India has an impeccable record of Nuclear Proliferation and has garnered the support of the majority of the group members. Since 2016, China has put the condition that only those country that have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) should be allowed to join the NSG. Both Pakistan and India have not signed the NPT. China has asked for two-step plan that requires the NSG members to arrive at a set of principles for the entry non-NPT members and then move ahead on specific cases.13

Further, justifying its stand on India’s position, the Chinese Foreign Ministry disagreed that it is blocking India’s candidature in the NSG. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lu Kang said “on the issue of group expansion, China’s position is consistent and clear. China advocates strict adherence to the rules of the NSG, safeguards the authority and seriousness of the NPT, and seeks non-discriminatory and acceptable solution but all parties through negotiations.”.14

Supporting Terrorism

On 1 May 2019, the UNSC finally, designated Masood Azhar as ‘Global Terrorist’ only after China removed its technical hold. Earlier, China had refused to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist four times. The change in the stance can be attributed to many factors such as US-China rivalry, increasing proximity of India-US and popularisation of the Indo-Pacific.15

Reportedly, as the entire world is battling with COVID-19, China is trying to revive a terror group in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). Chinese officials met the members of the Al Badr in PoK. Al Badr is an off-shoot of Hizb-ul Mujahideen that was formed in 1998. It has two point agenda; to strengthen the Kashmir freedom struggle and “liberate” Jammu and Kashmir from India and merge it with Pakistan.16 It had earlier received funding from the Jamaat-e-Islami and the ISI.

Conclusion

The stand-off at along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh has once again highlighted the Chinese intentions. The Chinese aggression in Ladakh is a violation of the agreements and Confidence Building Measures that the two sides had reached in 1993, 1996 and 2013 that facilitated maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LAC. In 1996 both sides had also agreed not to use firearms in the volatile area. From above going it is quite apparent that China is unlikely to be swayed by India’s concerns and interests and would use every trick to keep India confined to South Asia. Because of several contextual factors it will continue to pursue policies that deny India’s entry into important UNSC, NSG and would also continue to support countries inimical to India’s rise.

  1. MEA Annual Report 1950-51, pg 20,https://mealib.nic.in/?pdf2477?000
  2. MEA Annual Report, 1957-58, pg 65 https://mealib.nic.in/?pdf2484?000
  3. Not at the Cost of China: India and the United Nations Security Council, 1950, accessed at https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/not-the-cost-china-india-and-the-united-nations-security-council-1950
  4. Dipanjan Roy Chaudhary, China raked up status of Aksai Chin at UNSC informal session, The Economic Times accessed athttps://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/china-raked-up-status-of-aksai-chin-at-unsc-informal-session/articleshow/70747053.cms
  5. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Remarks on the Current Situation in Jammu Kashmir, accessed at https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/2535_665405/t1686548.shtml
  6. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Remarks on the Indian Government's Announcement of the Establishment of the Ladakh Union Territory Which Involves Chinese Territory, accessed at https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/2535_665405/t1686549.shtml
  7. LanJianxue, India's bet on Kashmir could prove dangerous, China Daily, accessed at http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201908/15/WS5d5495f2a310cf3e35565cc3.html
  8. Zhang Han, China, India FMs expected to cool down Kashmir row, Global Times, accessed at accessed at http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1161099.shtml
  9. UN Security Council discusses Kashmir, China urges India and Pakistan to ease tensions, accessed at https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/08/1044401
  10. Major differences among UN members over India's permanent membership in UNSC: China accessed at https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/major-differences-among-un-members-over-indias-permanent-membership-in-unsc-china/articleshow/73304888.cms?from=mdr
  11. Joint Statement of the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China, accessed at https://www.mea.gov.in/bilateral-documents.htm?dtl/6577/Joint+Statement+of+the+Republic+of+India+and+the+Peoples+Republic+of+China
  12. Joint Statement between the India and China during Prime Minister's visit to China, accessed at
    https://mea.gov.in/bilateraldocuments.htm?dtl/25240/Joint_Statement_between_the_India_and_China_during_Prime_Ministers_visit_to_China
  13. China rules out India's entry into NSG without 'consensus' on allowing non-NPT countries, accessed at https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/china-rules-out-indias-entry-into-nsg-without-consensus-on-allowing-non-npt-countries/articleshow/69893448.cms?from=mdr
  14. China is not blocking India’s entry to Nuclear Suppliers Group: FM, accessed at
    http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1155226.shtml
  15. Why China changed its stance on Masood Azhar, accessed at
    https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/why-china-changed-its-stand-on-masood-azhar/article27211058.ece
  16. Is China trying to revive a terrorist group in Pakistan occupied Kashmir? accessed at https://www.wionews.com/world/is-china-trying-to-revive-a-terrorist-group-in-pakistan-occupied-kashmir-312371

(The paper is the author’s individual scholastic articulation. The author certifies that the article/paper is original in content, unpublished and it has not been submitted for publication/web upload elsewhere, and that the facts and figures quoted are duly referenced, as needed, and are believed to be correct). (The paper does not necessarily represent the organisational stance... More >>


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