Asking India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, China on Tuesday said they should avoid actions that "unilaterally" change the status quo and exacerbate tensions between them as it voiced "serious concern" over the situation in Kashmir.
China also expressed its opposition to India's move to create a separate Union Territory of Ladakh. In New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise." The Indian government on Monday revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and proposed that the state be bifurcated into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Asserting that China's position on Kashmir was "clear and consistent", Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying in Beijing said the issue is a legacy of history between India and Pakistan, which is also the consensus of the international community. Hua, in a written response to queries on exchange of fire along the Line of Control and the Indian government's move to revoke Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, said China is "seriously concerned" about the current situation in Kashmir.
"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 tension," she said. "We call on both India and Pakistan to peacefully resolve the relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and safeguard peace and stability in the region," she said. This is the second statement issued by China on the Kashmir issue in recent weeks. On July 26, China said India and Pakistan should peacefully settle the Kashmir issue and other disputes through dialogue and expressed its support to the international community, including the US, in playing a "constructive role" to improve ties between the two countries.
The statement was issued in response to US President Donald Trump's offer to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue during his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Washington. India rejected Trump's offer, saying that Kashmir is a bilateral issue. Over the years, China's official stand on Kashmir has been that it is an issue left over by history and should be properly addressed by India and Pakistan through consultation and negotiations. In a separate statement, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson objected to the formation of Ladakh as Union Territory highlighting China's claims over the area.
"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," she said. "This firm and consistent position remains unchanged. Recently India has continued to undermine China's territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law. Such practice is unacceptable and will not come into force," she said. "We urge India to exercise prudence in words and deeds concerning the boundary question, strictly abide by relevant agreements concluded between the two sides and avoid taking any move that may further complicate the boundary question," she said.
In response to a query on comments made by the Chinese spokesperson, Kumar said India and China have agreed to a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the boundary question on the basis of the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of India-China Boundary Question. "Pending such a settlement, both sides have agreed to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas on the basis of the relevant agreements," Kumar said in New Delhi. India and China have 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) between them. The two countries have held 21 rounds of Special Representatives talks so far to resolve the boundary dispute.