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Beijing: Voicing serious concern over the situation in Kashmir, China on Tuesday asked India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and avoid actions that "unilaterally" change the status quo and exacerbate tensions between the two countries.

"China is seriously concerned about the current situation in Kashmir," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a written response to media queries about the militaries of India and Pakistan exchanging fire along the Line of Control and the Indian government's move to revoke Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

"China's position on the Kashmir issue is clear and consistent. This issue is a legacy of history between India and Pakistan, which is also the consensus of the international community," Hua said, without directly referring to revocation of Article 370 by India.

"The parties concerned should exercise restraint and act with caution, especially to avoid actions that unilaterally change the status quo and exacerbate the tension," she said.

"We call on the two sides to peacefully resolve relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and safeguard regional peace and stability", 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.

Commenting on the Indian government's decision to create Ladakh Union Territory, which involves the territory of the western section of the Sino-Indian border, the foreign ministry said, "China always opposes India's inclusion of Chinese territory in the western section of the China-India boundary under its administrative jurisdiction."

"This position is firm and consistent and has never changed. The recent unilateral revision of domestic laws by the Indian side continues to undermine China's territorial sovereignty, which is unacceptable and will not have any effect," the ministry said.

It urged the Indian side "to be cautious in its words and actions on the boundary issue, strictly abide by the relevant agreements reached between the two sides and avoid any move that further complicates the boundary issue."

-By K J M Varma

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