China on Tuesday jumped to the defence of its all-weather ally Pakistan in the wake of US President Donald Trump's stern warning to it over providing safe havens to terrorists, saying that Islamabad is at the frontline of combating terrorism.
Trump, in his first prime-time televised address to announce his Afghanistan and South Asia policy, hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to "agents of chaos" that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has "much to lose" by harbouring terrorists.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, while reacting to Trump's comments on Pakistan, said, "Hope the relevant policy decision by US side will be conducive to promoting security, stability of the relevant region."
"(On) President Trump's remarks on Pakistan, I should say that Pakistan is at the frontline of fighting terrorism, has made sacrifices in fighting terrorism, making an important contribution to upholding peace and stability," Hua said, strongly defending Beijing's all-weather friend.
Trump, in his address, slammed Pakistan for its support to terror groups and warned Islamabad of consequences if it continues to do so.
Hua, in response to Trump's scathing criticism of Pakistan's support to terror groups, said, "I think the international community should truly affirm" the efforts by Pakistan in combating terrorism.
"We are pleased to see US and Pakistan conduct cooperation in anti-terrorism efforts on the basis of mutual respect and contribute to the global peace and stability," she said.
On Trump indicating deepening ties with India, Hua said China is happy to see the development of normal and friendly relations between the two countries as long as such a relationship does not harm other countries and is conducive to regional development.
"So we are pleased to see sound and normal relations between US and India," she said, hoping that the two sides will play a more constructive role promoting regional peace and development.
Hua skirted a direct answer to a question on whether China's policies like blocking India's membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and efforts to get Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar banned by the UN had created more space for the US to develop closer ties with India, saying its bilateral ties with India or with the US will not be targeted by a third party.
Hua also criticised India's action to block China's road building in Doklam region where the two sides are involved in a standoff.
India's move at Doklam has a negative impact in the eyes of the Chinese people, she said.
India should match its words with deeds, Hua said while calling for an unconditional withdrawal of Indian troops and equipment.
Asked about the impact of Trump's decision to follow a more proactive policy in Afghanistan on China, Hua said, the "Chinese side will uphold the objective and unbiased principle to promote friendly relations with other countries, based on the merits of the matter itself".
"We hope that the Trump administration's policy adjustment will be conducive to promoting peace and stability in South Asia," she said.
"China closely follows Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. We think the stable relations between the two countries will also be helpful," Hua said.
Referring to a recent trip made by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to Afghanistan and Pakistan amid Kabul's allegations that Islamabad was not cracking down on the Taliban, Hua said Wang's visit was aimed at mediating for better relations between the two countries.
During the visit, Afghanistan and Pakistan sent out goodwill messages to each other, especially in the establishment of crisis management mechanism which China is trying to operationalise, she said.
"We also appreciate and applaud the dialogue between the two countries. During the process, as a friend of these two countries, China will, within its capacity, play a constructive role," she said.
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