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Why Is China Defending Jaish-e-Mohammad Chief Masood Azhar?

China has not only blocked India's bid to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar declared as a UN-designated terrorist but also given a bizarre justification for its decision. While the country continues to claim that it stands against all forms of terrorism, it has refused to end its technical hold on the ban on Azhar.

Replying to a question on criticism about China's move to stall India's bid for a UN ban on Azhar, China's Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong sought to justify Beijing's recent technical hold in the matter. In a veiled reference to India, which is pressing for the UN ban against Azhar over his role in the Pathankot terror attack, he said: "China is opposed to all forms of terrorism. There should be no double standards on counter-terrorism. Nor should one pursue own political gains in the name of counter-terrorism.

Here are some reasons for China's support to Azhar:

1. Chinese stand on Azhar certainly shows the country can go to any extent to appease its partner Pakistan. However, Chinese authorities claim otherwise. China claims it is against the ban on Azhar because of the "different views" on the issue.

Chinese Foreign Ministry had told PTI on Saturday: "There are still different views on India's listing application made this March. The technical hold on it will allow more time for the Committee to deliberate on the matter and for relevant parties to have further consultations."

2. Azhar has the backing of the Pakistani military and China considers Pakistan as its "all-weather ally" while it sees India as a competitor and sometimes even a threat.

3. In past, China has taken a stand against India over several issues, like India's NSG membership in the UNSC. As far as the ban on Azhar is concerned, China is the only country among 15 to have opposed the ban on Azhar.

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