China Tuesday urged its two South Asian neighbors -- India and Pakistan -- to exercise utmost restraint and peacefully settle their disputes through negotiation and dialogue.
"Being a close neighbor and friend to India and Pakistan, China is greatly concerned over the recent escalation of tension between the two sides," said foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan at a press conference.
Tension rose with Pakistan conducting three missile tests in four days, reports said. The two countries traded heavy fire across a ceasefire line in disputed Kashmir, with the situation threatening to erupt into war.
China has always engaged in efforts to promote peace and stability and hopes the two sides exercise maximum patience to maintain peace and stability, which is in the interest of India and Pakistan, as well as the overall interests of South Asian countries, said the foreign ministry spokesman.
Not long ago, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan paid a visit to Pakistan to express China's stance on this issue, Kong said. After returning home, Tang also phoned India's Foreign Minister to brief him on China's attitude towards India-Pakistan relations, hoping the two sides exercise restraint and work to ease the tension.
On Sunday, the foreign minister also phoned US Secretary of State Colin Powell to explain China's position on the issue, Kong said.
When speaking of the Kashmir dispute, Kong said it is a question left over by history and China hopes the two sides will settle the problem peacefully.
Responding to an inquiry on the fate of three people who entered the Embassy of the Republic of Korea (ROK) in China several days ago, the spokesman said China has asked the ROK Embassy to hand the people over to the Chinese side.
These people said they came from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), wanting to seek asylum in the ROK, reports said.
"According to international law as well as the Chinese law, foreign missions have no right to give asylum to citizens from a third country," Kong stressed.
The asylum bid follows a case in which five people tried to seek asylum in a Japanese consulate but were taken out by Chinese police, sparking a dispute between China and Japan.
Commenting on reports that Pakistan has handed over East Turkistan activists to China, Kong said he is not sure about the accuracy of the reports.
Kong stressed that after verification of their Chinese citizenship, they should be handed over to China so China can deal with them according to Chinese law.
"East Turkistan is connected with international terrorism and they were involved in al Qaida and Taliban activities," said the spokesman.
(China Daily May 29, 2002)