Long before New Delhi first issued and then withdrew visa of Uyghur leader Dolkun Isa, an invite by the Chinese NGO to the moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had got New Delhi worked up. And yes, before China withheld consent to Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar’s designation as a terrorist on UN list, Beijing had also blocked New Delhi’s attempt to seek UN sanctions against Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin.
It was In November 2009 that Han Foundation, a Chinese NGO invited the Chairman of the Hurriyat doves Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to visit Beijing, which, however, didn’t materialize. The invite had come amid Mirwaiz’s pitch for a “joint contact group” on Kashmir, comprising India, China and Pakistan.
China at the time was also angry over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
Similarly, during Mirwaiz’s travel to Geneva the same year to attend the 13th session of the UN Human Rights Council, he had met China’s then Director Foreign Affairs Ying Gang and discussed “Beijing’s role in the resolution of Kashmir conflict”.
The Mirwaiz had then said that Gang expressed support for the settlement of Kashmir “as per the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiris”.
The meeting was held amid the then snowballing controversy about China’s practice of issuing stapled visas to Kashmiris visiting the country. The practice was welcomed by the separatist leaders including hard line Syed Ali Shah Geelani who had then expressed his desire to visit China “to thank the country for considering Kashmir disputed.”
In 2013, a pro-China rally was held by militant groups in Muzaffarabad after Beijing stopped listing of Hizb chief Salahuddin under UNSC resolution 1267 of the Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee. The Committee, a Security Council subsidiary organ oversees the implementation of the sanctions by member states against individuals and entities associated with Al-Qaida, as designated by the Committee in its Sanctions List.
China sought more information to prove Salahuddin’s links to Al Qaeda – a prerequisite for listing under 1267, a stance that resonated with the Kashmiri separatists and the militant groups, who rallied to Beijing’s side.
This was for the first time that a separatist rally was held in support of China in Muzaffarabad where speakers thanked China “for preventing India’s bid and expressed the hope that Beijing would continue to thwart conspiracies against the just cause of Kashmiris”.
In recent years, China has become a conspicuous presence in the Valley discourse through incursions in Ladakh and issuing of stapled visas to Kashmiri citizens visiting China, a practice which has now been given up.
Beijing has already acquired a major geo-political profile on J&K by using PoK as its route to Gwadar and West Asia as part of its $46 billion worth China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).