China says no to ‘double standards’ in fighting terror ahead of BRICS meet

China on Friday opposed what it described as “double standards” in fighting terrorism ahead of the first meeting of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) foreign ministers in Beijing during June 18-19.

“On counter-terrorism we have a clear cut position that terrorism is the common enemy of mankind. We oppose any double standard adopted by the countries in counter-terrorism efforts,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a regular news briefing.

Minister of state for external affairs VK Singh will represent India at the meeting to be chaired by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.

Wang’s counterparts from Russia (Sergey Lavrov), South Africa (Maite Nkoana-Mashabane) and Brazil (Aloysio Nunes) will attend the meet. Lu said the ministers will “conduct a candid exchange of views” on terrorism.

“The five countries are not expected to have any essential divergences and differences on this issue. Because counter-terrorism efforts call on the international community to form consensus and forge a joint force in this regard,” he said.

Lu’s comments indicated that counter-terrorism will be in sharp focus during the meeting.

New Delhi is expected to flag cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, particularly the case of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, who has been accused of masterminding a string of attacks in India.

China has repeatedly blocked India’s efforts to get Azhar added to a UN list of proscribed terrorists, saying there isn’t enough evidence against him.

“Our criteria is only one, we need solid evidence. If there is solid evidence the application can be moved. If there is no solid evidence there is hardly consensus,” China’s foreign ministry said in February on Azhar’s case.

Privately, diplomats say more than lack of evidence, it is China’s “all weather strategic” friendship with “ba tie” or “iron brother” Pakistan that is preventing it from saying “yes” on the issue.

Asked whether India’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will come up at the BRICS meet, Lu said: “On the issue of NSG, I can tell you China’s stance on the accession of new members in NSG has not changed.”

China has blocked India’s entry to the 48-member bloc because New Delhi is not a signatory to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Beijing has suggested a two-step approach for inclusion of non-NPT countries such as India – forge conditions that apply to all non-NPT countries and then discuss the applications of such nations.

Lu said BRICS is an important organisation for relations between developing countries with growing international influence. “We think this foreign ministers’ meeting will help us exchange in-depth views on important international issues and other issues of mutual concern”.