China on Monday said Pakistan should not be targeted on terrorism at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit this week, where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to raise the issue of Islamabad harbouring terrorists.
During his first foreign visit to the Maldives after being re-elected as India's Prime Minister, Modi on Saturday indirectly attacked Pakistan, saying state sponsorship of terrorism is the biggest threat the world is facing today.
Modi is likely to raise the issue at this week's summit, as part of India's strategy to isolate Pakistan at multilateral forums but China made clear its ally, Islamabad, should not be targeted at the event.
"In every summit, the institutional building of the SCO will be discussed that would involve economic cooperation and security cooperation particularly on counter-terrorism," China's Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui said.
"Security and development are two major issues of focus for the SCO. The establishment of the SCO is not to target any certain country but the summit of this level will certainly pay attention to major international relation and regional issues," Zhang said in an indirect reference to Pakistan while replying to a question if multilateralism would be the at the fulcrum of the discussion at the event.
Zhang was addressing a press conference ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping attending the 19th SCO summit in Kyrgyzstan's Bishkek, and the fifth version of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Dushanbe, the capital city of Tajikistan.
Modi will meet Xi on the sidelines of the summit, where he will not meet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, citing Islamabad funding anti-India terrorists.
China has long shielded Pakistan on terrorism, saying the South Asian nation itself is the victim of the menace and done a tremendous job in wiping out terrorists. This frustrates India and one of the sore points in its ties with China.
Talking to journalists, Zhang also said US' trade protectionist policy will figure at the event.
"As for the ongoing unilateralist, protectionist and bullying practices in the world, I think they are close to the hearts of all countries.
"We have not set an agenda as such beforehand but I think some participation countries will be interests in this topic. Some leaders will express their views on these matters. It is only natural to see that happening," he added.