Kashmir to Beijing, they only managed to get an audience with a junior foreign minister, and Beijing did not issue a statement in support of Pakistan’s stand. Even at the UNSC, China has rebuffed repeated Pakistani attempts to bring up Kashmir, repeating its stand that it was an issue for India and Pakistan to resolve. China’s new embrace of Pakistan— and its raised stakes in that country— have complicated this balancing act in recent weeks. Beijing has appeared unusually unnerved by India’s more robust-than-expected response to Uri and by the surgical strikes as well as by Modi’s invoking of Balochistan.
In the recent past, India’s ties with China have been largely insulated from its troubles with Pakistan. This was evident during the Kargil war when Beijing largely stayed away, and also in the wake of the Mumbai attacks of 2008 when China, as its officials often like to remind Indian interlocutors, quietly sent envoys to Delhi and Islamabad to calm tensions, and later supported moves at the UNSC to sanction LeT leader Zakiur-Rehman Lakhvi and its affiliate organisation, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa.
Yet the recent tensions with Pakistan have been viewed somewhat differently, and Prime Minister Modi’s remarks on the situation in Balochistan alarmed Beijing even if they were, in reality, not very different from China’s unexpected statement in July expressing “concern” over protests in Jammu & Kashmir.
One reason is because the postCPEC embrace of Pakistan is effectively pushing both countries in a direction where they “will become mutual stakeholders of each other”, says Hu Shisheng, a strategic expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, an influential state security-affiliated thinktank. “This means any disturbance in Pakistan,” he says in a clear message to India, “will get Chinese interests disturbed.” It is hence unavoidable, says Hu, that Pakistan will become “a bigger factor” in India-China relations.
Hu probably reflects the popular