Killing of two Chinese teachers by Islamic State (IS) militants in Pakistan raised tension between the two Asian neighbours, prompting Islamabad to take necessary steps to ensure security of the Chinese people living in different provinces of Pakistan.
In the second week of June, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced his decision to not hold a separate meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Astana.
Immediately after the Chinese president refused to have a meeting with Sharif (which hurt Islamabad), the Pakistani government made the move to impress Beijing.
It is to be noted that China recently increased its investment in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to USD 62 billion from USD 55 billion. Many Chinese officials have arrived in Pakistan to monitor this project. Islamabad announced on June 13 that 15,000 security guards would be deployed to protect the Chinese officials. A section of senior Pakistani diplomats believes China’s recent attitudes towards Pakistan prompted Islamabad to make the announcement.
However, Beijing abruptly turned down the view.
In a statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that China still maintains cordial ties with Pakistan. The ministry even slammed some journalists for spreading rumours, informing that President Xi met Prime Minister Sharif on a number of occasions in the Kazakh capital, although they did not hold bilateral talks.
Interestingly, a senior spokesperson of the Chinese ministry refused to make any comment when asked why it was not possible for the two countries to arrange a Xi-Sharif meeting in Astana.
Meanwhile, China officially welcomed India and Pakistan into the SCO on Thursday (June 15), saying that their differences could not disrupt the unity of the grouping as its charter strictly prohibits members to bring bilateral hostility into the organisation. Speaking at a ceremony at the SCO headquarters in Beijing to formally admit the two neighbours as new members of the grouping, Assistant Foreign Minister of China Kong Xuanyou said: “As a founding member of the SCO, we are very happy about the membership of India and Pakistan.”
Kong’s view came in the presence of Indian Ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale and his Pakistan counterpart Masood Khalid.
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