Beijing: China's military said on Thursday its top General Xu Qiliang made a "very successful" visit to Pakistan this week but played down the trip's timing which coincided with the India-Pak tensions, asserting that it was planned earlier as part of the PLA's international military cooperation plan.
The visit of Gen Xu, the Vice Chairman of the China's powerful Central Military Commission (CMC) headed by President Xi Jinping, assumed significance as it took place in the current round of tensions between Pakistan and India over New Delhi's decision to revoke article 370 of the Constitution that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The CMC is the overall high command of China's 2-million strong military. During his visit, Gen Xu held talks with Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and met President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Asked about the significance and outcome of Gen Xu's visit to Pakistan, spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Defence senior Col Ren Guoqiang told a media briefing here that "this visit is very successful." "China and Pakistan are strategic partners and iron brothers that help each other," he said.
"Given the complex security situation in the region, the Chinese side is willing to work together with Pakistan side to implement the consensus between the two heads of the state, strengthen strategic communication, enhance mutual trust and improve defence cooperation so as to work together to safeguard regional stability," he said, without directly referring to discussions on the Kashmir situation.
Gen Xu's visit to Pakistan was in the 2019 international military cooperation plan of China and it was mutually agreed programme by Pakistan and China, he said, downplaying the significance of its timing.
Pakistan, which is seeking to internationalise the Kashmir issue after revocation of the special status of the state, is pushing China to play more active role to back its efforts. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had air-dashed to Beijing to discuss the Kashmir issue with the top Chinese leaders after India scrapped the Article 370 on August 5.
A rare closed-door consultations on Kashmir by the Security Council on August 16 ended without any outcome or statement from the powerful 15-nation UN organ, dealing a huge snub to Pakistan and its all-weather ally China to internationalise the issue, which an overwhelming majority stressed is a bilateral matter between New Delhi and Islamabad.
China had asked for the "closed consultations" in the Security Council. India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was its internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.
The Inter-Services Public Relations - the media wing of the Pakistan Army - said during the meeting between Xu and Bajwa, matters of mutual interest, regional security, avenues to enhance bilateral defence collaboration and particularly the situation in Kashmir were discussed.
Reports from Pakistan also said the two countries signed an MoU to enhance defence cooperation and capacity building of the Pakistan Army. Ren, however, did not refer to the signing of the MoU.
While Pakistan officials said, the talks covered the present situation in Kashmir, China's state-run Xinhua news agency in its coverage of Xu's visit made no reference to the Kashmir issue.
Xu kicked off his Pakistan visit on Monday. During his stay in Islamabad, Xu also held meetings with Pakistan's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chief of Naval Staff Zafar Mahmood Abbasi and Chief of Air Staff Mujahid Anwar Khan, the Xinhua said.