Beijing: Coming out in support of Pakistan, China on Thursday said the aim of the FATF is not to sanction or punish any country and Beijing will work with all parties of the global anti-money laundering watchdog to assist Islamabad in improving its domestic anti-terrorist financing system.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang's remarks came after a senior Chinese official said Beijing is opposed to the blacklisting of Pakistan by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
China also sought to play down remarks by Deputy Director General for Policy Planning of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affair, Yao Wen to the Pakistani media that China has a trust deficit with New Delhi compared to the close ties with Pakistan.
Geng, when asked to respond to the reported comments by Yao that China is opposed to blacklisting of Pakistan by the FATF, said the aim of the anti-money laundering body "is not to sanction or punish any country".
According to the official Associated Press of Pakistan, Yao said that China does not want the FATF to be politicised by any single country.
"There are some countries, which want to include Pakistan in the blacklist. We consider they have political designs. That is something China is against. China stands for justice," Yao was quoted as saying.
Yao's comments that China is opposed to the blacklisting of Pakistan by the FATF raised concerns whether Beijing would obstruct any such moves as was in the case of leader of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad terror group, Masood Azhar at the UN's 1267 Committee.
China, which repeatedly blocked moves by India, the US, France and the UK for a decade to declare Azhar as a global terrorist, finally relented in May this year and lifted its "technical hold" following threats by the US to take the issue to the UN Security Council.
The FATF is now headed by Chinese official Xiangmin Liu, who is the former Director-General of the Legal Department at China's central bank, the People's Bank of China.
Geng told a media briefing here that the FATF is an important platform for anti-money laundering and fighting terrorist financing activities.
"The aim of the FATF is to better help all countries fight the illegal activities of money laundering and terrorist financing or the abuse of the international financial system. FATF aim is not to sanction or punish any country," he said.
A meeting of the FATF in Paris on October 16 has decided in principle to keep Pakistan in its Grey List till February next year and directed Islamabad to take extra measures' for "complete" elimination of terror financing and money laundering after which it could be black listed.
The meeting observed that Islamabad will have to take further steps in these four months to control money laundering and terror financing.
Referring to the Paris meeting, Geng said "not long ago the plenary session of the FATF decided to keep the grading of Pakistan".
"This shows that the FATF members recognise Pakistan's progress in improving its anti-terrorist financing system and they are encouragement for Pakistan. This is also in accordance with the purposes and goals of the FATF," he said.
"China supports Pakistan improving its domestic anti-terrorist financing system and we will work with all parties of the FATF to provide constructive support and assistance to Pakistan," Geng said.
On Yao's comment of trust deficit with India especially in the light of recent 2nd informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping in Chennai, Geng said "China and Pakistan are all weather strategic partners and our cooperation is very close.
"Regarding President Xi and Prime Minister Modi's meeting in Chennai, I believe both sides have released statements and press releases and both sides exchanged views on the global, regional, long term and strategic issues in a friendly atmosphere and agreed to develop closer partnerships.
They also discussed cooperation in various areas in the next stage.
"I believe this includes cooperation in people-to-people exchanges," he said.
"Cooperation between China and India grew fast in the past years. And we have a mechanism for people-to-people exchange. In many areas, we have fruitful outcomes. I believe this contributes to our mutual understanding and trust and we will work with the Indian side under the people-to-people exchange mechanisms to work for greater mutual understanding and trust between our peoples," he said.