China came out in support of Pakistan's anti-terror financing regime on Tuesday, days after it withdrew opposition against a US-led move to place Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) watchlist.

"In recent years, Pakistan has made important progress in actively strengthening financial regulations to combat terror financing," China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said at a press briefing in Beijing.

The 37-nation FATF held its plenary meeting in Paris last week where it placed Pakistan on a so-called 'grey list' of the countries where terrorist outfits are still allowed to raise funds.

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The plenary held its first meeting on Pakistan on February 20 where China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which was representing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), opposed the move to place Pakistan on the watchlist. But the US pushed for an unprecedented second discussion on Pakistan, held on February 22.

By then, Washington had convinced Riyadh to give up its support to Pakistan in return for a full FATF membership. This left only two – China and Turkey – in the Pakistan camp, one less than the required number of three members to stall a move.

At this stage, the Chinese informed Islamabad that they were opting out as they did not want to “lose face by supporting a move that’s doomed to fail”, an official source had told Dawn. “Pakistan appreciated the Chinese position and conveyed its gratitude to Turkey for continuing to support Islamabad against all odds,” the source added.

When asked about reports whether China had refused to bail out Pakistan at the FATF meeting, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Pakistan's contributions in the area of countering terror financing were there for all to see.

"China highly recognises that [Pakistan's contributions], and hopes all relevant parties of the international community could arrive at an objective and fair conclusion on that," Lu said.

Talking about Pakistan's overall role in the war against terrorism, the spokesman said the Pakistani people have sacrificed "enormously" for the counterterrorism fight.

"Their hard efforts, both in terms of ground operations and in the field of terrorism financing, are there for all to see."

Lu reiterated that China has been calling on the international community to evaluate Pakistan's efforts against militancy "in an objective and fair way, instead of just pointing fingers at Pakistan out of bias".

"As an all-weather strategic cooperative partner for Pakistan, China will continue to enhance communication, coordination and cooperation with Pakistan on counterterrorism," he said.

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