India said on Thursday it was “disappointed” by China again delaying a bid to declare Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leader Masood Azhar a UN-designated global terrorist.
China had on Wednesday put on hold a request by Britain, France and the United States to add Azhar to a UN sanctions blacklist which would subject him to a global travel ban, an assets freeze and an arms embargo.
China — which has blocked three similar moves — said it needed more time to examine the sanctions request targeting Azhar, and asked for a technical hold which could last up to nine months.
In a statement, the Indian foreign ministry said it “was disappointed by the outcome”, adding that it would continue to pursue all avenues to make sure “terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens are brought to justice”.
China has blocked three previous attempts at the Al Qaeda sanctions committee of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to blacklist the JeM leader. The group itself was added to the UN terror list in 2001.
The committee has the same 11 members as the UNSC, including the permanent five — the US, Russia, China, Britain and France, which also have veto powers. If a UNSC member objects, the move ends. If not, it is considered adopted, binding all UN members, including Pakistan, to take punitive actions against the targeted individual or outfit.
There is no formal voting and the members usually express their opinions by email, either endorsing or rejecting the move.
Beijing's decision was the top news across Indian media on Thursday, with the Indian Express headlining its report: “Jaish chief gets Great Wall of China”.
India's main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi used the opportunity to mock Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seeking re-election in a national ballot starting next month.
“Weak Modi is scared of Xi. Not a word comes out of his mouth when China acts against India,” Gandhi tweeted, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Regional rivals China and India have longstanding territorial disputes but Modi and Xi have tried to patch up ties, banking on their personal chemistry to smoothen differences.
China's move on Azhar also triggered a storm of anti-Chinese sentiment on Twitter with #BoycottChinaProduct attracting hundreds of tweets.
China is India's biggest trading partner, but the trade imbalance is skewed heavily in favour of Beijing.