In recent years, China has expressed concern over threats from jihadi groups active in Afghanistan-Pakistan region, especially Uyghur jihadis advocating for the independence of East Turkestan (i.e., China's Xinjiang province) from Chinese control. However, China has also consistently refused to join other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council like the United States to place leading Pakistani jihadi commanders on the UN sanctions list of global terrorists.
Abdul Rauf Asghar of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM)
On August 10, 2022, China blocked a joint proposal by India and the U.S. to designate Abdul Rauf Asghar in the UN Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee. All other 14 member-states of the UN Security Council were in favor of listing Abdul Rauf Asghar as a global terrorist. Abdul Rauf Asghar is among the top Pakistani intelligence-backed jihadi commanders who planned the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 to Kandahar in 1999. Abdul Rauf Asghar's full name has been erroneously reported by India media as Abdul Rauf Azhar. He uses Asghar as his surname, which is different from the surname of his elder brother Maulana Masood Azhar. The surnames are not inherited.
Abdul Rauf Asghar is the deputy emir of Pakistani jihadi organization Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), which was founded by his elder brother Maulana Masood Azhar. The elder brother was among three terrorists freed by India in exchange for the passengers of IC-814. If China had instead chosen not to block this proposal, it could have signaled its intention to work as part of the international community to jointly fight international terrorism by getting Abdul Rauf Asghar listed. This move would have especially benefitted its staunch ally Pakistan, which has been placed on a "grey list" by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a multilateral anti-money laundering agency, for failure to stem the flow of funds to Pakistani jihadi groups.
In New Delhi, Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Arindam Bagchi underlined the importance of the joint fight against jihadi terrorism, saying: "It's unfortunate that when it comes to our collective battle against terrorism, the international community has been unable to speak in one common voice." China's blocking of the proposal is a "technical hold" that lasts for six months under the UN Security Council's procedures. Defending his country's decision, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong said: "China needs more time to study carefully the application on the designation of terrorist... China strongly opposes terrorism in all its forms."
Abdul Rehman Makki of Lashkar-e-Taiba
The Chinese position undermines the Financial Action Task Force, which works to prevent international transfers of funds to terrorist organizations. Pakistan is currently on FATF's grey list and could be removed only after an on-the-ground examination of its claims that it has undertaken legal and executive measures to prevent flow of funds to charities controlled by Pakistani jihadi organizations.
This is not the first time this year China has blocked the listing of terrorists by the UN Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee. On June 16, 2022, China blocked a U.S.-India proposal to list Abdul Rehman Makki, a jihadi commander and brother-in-law of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, as a global terrorist. At the UN Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee, China put, like this time, a last-minute "technical hold," preventing Abdul Rehman Makki from being designated as a global terrorist.
LeT, though it has gone underground in Pakistan under FATF pressure and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed has been reluctantly put in prison by Pakistan, remains an overground jihadi terrorist organization fighting Indian security forces in Jammu & Kashmir. Abdul Rehman Makki is the lead operational manager for Jamaatud Dawa, the charity arm of LeT. JeM, led by Abdul Rauf Asghar and his brother Maulana Masood Azhar, is also a leading jihadi organization fighting Indian security forces in Jammu & Kashmir.
Maulana Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Muhammad
At the UN Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee, India tried for more than a decade to have Maulana Masood Azhar listed as a global terrorist. In that case too, China repeatedly blocked any Indian attempt to have Maulana Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist. Beijing has faced severe criticism for its use of technical holds to prevent the listing of terrorists.
In January 2017, then Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: "Both China and India are victims of terrorism, and the two sides share the same goal on the issues... China and India must maintain cooperation in fighting terrorism." It was only in 2019 that China had relented, allowing Maulana Masood Azhar to be designated as a global terrorist.