A grab from video posted by Pakistani social media accounts showing a man reported to be an Indian pilot who was captured after his plane went down in the Pakistan. This comes as both India and Pakistan confirm at least one Indian pilot went down with an aircraft during an aerial encounter between the two countries over the disputed territory of Kashmir. CNN is not able to independently verify this image.
From social media
A grab from video posted by Pakistani social media accounts showing a man reported to be an Indian pilot who was captured after his plane went down in the Pakistan. This comes as both India and Pakistan confirm at least one Indian pilot went down with an aircraft during an aerial encounter between the two countries over the disputed territory of Kashmir. CNN is not able to independently verify this image.
Now playing
01:29
Pakistan claims it shot down 2 Indian jets
Now playing
01:25
Kerala struggling to deal with massive floods
Indian volunteers and rescue personnel evacuate local residents in a boat in a residential area at Kozhikode, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 16, 2018. - The death toll from floods in India's tourist hotspot of Kerala increased to 77 on August 16, as torrential rainfall threatened new areas, officials told AFP. (Photo by - / AFP)-/AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Indian volunteers and rescue personnel evacuate local residents in a boat in a residential area at Kozhikode, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 16, 2018. - The death toll from floods in India's tourist hotspot of Kerala increased to 77 on August 16, as torrential rainfall threatened new areas, officials told AFP. (Photo by - / AFP)-/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:56
Kerala monsoon rains turn deadly
TOPSHOT - An Indian woman sits inside her houses immersed in flood waters in Ernakulam district of Kochi, in the Indian state of Kerala on August 10, 2018. - Flash floods have claimed at least 27 lives in the southern Indian state of Kerala, officials said on August 10, prompting the US to advise its citizens to stay away from the tourist hotspot. (Photo by - / AFP)        (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
-/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - An Indian woman sits inside her houses immersed in flood waters in Ernakulam district of Kochi, in the Indian state of Kerala on August 10, 2018. - Flash floods have claimed at least 27 lives in the southern Indian state of Kerala, officials said on August 10, prompting the US to advise its citizens to stay away from the tourist hotspot. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:00
Heavy flooding in India kills dozens
CNN
Now playing
01:37
Report: Rampant abuse in Indian home for girls
Now playing
01:27
11-year-old girl raped by 17 men this year, police say
Justin Solomon
Now playing
01:18
Watch this 10-year-old girl surf in India
Millennium Audios
Now playing
01:01
Watch: Music video inspired by deadly virus
CNN
Now playing
02:03
The women and girls of Delhi are fighting back (2018)
orig natpak anthony bourdain here and there parts unknown punjab _00000728.jpg
orig natpak anthony bourdain here and there parts unknown punjab _00000728.jpg
Now playing
01:39
Here's what shocked Bourdain in Punjab
Crowds gather to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra on January 3, 2018. 
India is to restrict the number of daily visitors to the Taj Mahal in an effort to preserve the iconic 17th-century monument to love, its biggest tourist draw. Millions of mostly Indian tourists visit the Taj Mahal every year and their numbers are increasing steadily as domestic travel becomes more accessible.
 / AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET        (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra on January 3, 2018. India is to restrict the number of daily visitors to the Taj Mahal in an effort to preserve the iconic 17th-century monument to love, its biggest tourist draw. Millions of mostly Indian tourists visit the Taj Mahal every year and their numbers are increasing steadily as domestic travel becomes more accessible. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:33
Pollution is damaging iconic Taj Mahal
CNNMoney/Getty Images
Now playing
00:55
Walmart is buying Indian online retailer Flipkart
Boby Mishra
Now playing
01:23
Violent dust storms sweep Northern India
Now playing
01:51
Teen allegedly burned alive after gang rape
i on india changing homeland orig nws_00005707.jpg
i on india changing homeland orig nws_00005707.jpg
Now playing
01:02
India: A nation of many extremes
CNN
Now playing
01:34
Why can't these Indian nationals leave Saudi Arabia?
Hong Kong CNN —  

Beijing is on the verge of being sucked into an India-Pakistan crisis, amid rising tensions in the Kashmir region that borders China.

Diplomatic relations between longtime rivals India and Pakistan reached their lowest point in years this week, after Pakistan claimed its air force shot down two Indian jets over the disputed border Kashmir region, capturing one pilot.

That came a day after the Indian military said it had launched airstrikes against a terrorist camp in Pakistan, the first such incursion by Indian air forces since the India-Pakistan war of 1971.

It isn’t just that China shares a border with the contested region of Kashmir – Beijing also has important links with both Pakistan and India that it needs to balance.

China has close economic, diplomatic and military ties with Pakistan, making it one of the nation’s closest allies in region.

China's President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 2.
THOMAS PETER/AFP/Getty Images
China's President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 2.

Meanwhile, China’s long-running trade war with the US has forced Beijing to look for alternative trading partners. As result, China has started to rebuild ties with rival rising power India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Last year Modi made two visits to China.

This week, China’s Foreign Ministry called for both Pakistan and India to “maintain self-restraint and focus on regional peace and stability.”

In an urgent late night call on Wednesday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi asked Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to play “a constructive role in easing the current tensions.”

During the call, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected, and China does not want to see the acts that violate the norms of international relations.”

Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at SOAS University of London, said there was no benefit to China on any front if tensions between India and Pakistan spiraled.

“China cannot afford to be seen as failing Pakistan, but at the same time I don’t think the Chinese really want to pick a fight with the Indians over this,” he said.

The Xinjiang dilemma

The long-standing tensions that existed in the region were not a big problem for Beijing, according to China expert Tsang, as they served to remind Islamabad of China’s importance as an ally.

But the escalation this week has put Beijing in an awkward position.

“They have to do something to show that they are helping to keep things under control, while not appearing unreliable as Pakistan’s ally,” Tsang said.

But Beijing doesn’t want to overplay its support of Pakistan and push India into the arms of US President Donald Trump.

Compounding China’s problems is the fact India claims it was striking back against terrorists in Kashmir.

The mass detention of Muslim majority Uyghurs in China’s north western province of Xinjiang by the Chinese government is one of Beijing’s most controversial international policies – and justified by China’s government on the grounds that it is an essential measure in combating terrorism.

“They don’t want to be too hard on India, because they’re acting in response to terrorism,” Tsang said.

China experts said the country’s best option was to join the US in working to defuse tensions between Pakistan and India.

Han Hua, professor and South Asia studies expert at Peking University, said given China has greater influence in Pakistan, while the US holds more sway in India, it made sense for the two to cooperate.

“China’s message is clear to both sides: exercise restraint,” she said. “China’s interest lies in the stability of South Asia.”

Beijing’s South Asian tightrope

China has been pulling off a delicate diplomatic balancing act in South Asia in the past year, after easing some regional tensions.

In July 2017, for example, there was a heated month-long territorial standoff between Chinese and Indian troops in Doklam, near the borders of India, China and Bhutan.

The two powers nearly came to blows over accusations the Chinese government was building a road inside the territory of close Indian ally Bhutan.

Nearby, China also conducted live-fire drills with combat troops.

But a warm, informal summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2018 helped put relations back on a positive track.

“The common interests of China and India far outweigh their differences,” state-run newspaper China Daily said in an editorial at the time.

The situation is much clearer for China across the border. Pakistan is a longtime friend and trading partner of Beijing, described by Chinese diplomats as enjoying an “all-weather friendship” with the country.

Pakistan is also one of the largest buyers of Beijing’s weapons. Between 2008 and 2017, Islamabad purchased more than $6 billion of Chinese arms, according to think tank CSIS.

It hasn’t all been easy sailing, however. Questions have been raised about the large debts Pakistan has accrued as a result of Chinese government loans and infrastructure.

But Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been determined to keep the special relationship with Beijing strong. “We need to use China as an inspiration to lift our people out of poverty,” he said.

CNN’s Brad Lendon contributed to this report.