Updated: Feb 24, 2017 08:58 IST
By Sutirtho Patranobis
India should join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which goes through Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (PoK), to reap economic benefits even if it means legitimising the disputed region, the Chinese state media said on Friday.
The advice from Chinese state media came close on the heels of foreign secretary S Jaishankar making it clear in the just-concluded strategic dialogue that India has “sovereignty” issues with the corridor (CPEC) passing through PoK.
The multi-billion dollar CPEC is the flagship project under President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive connectivity project over land and sea.
“New Delhi fears that the CPEC, passing through the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, would serve the purpose of granting legitimacy to Pakistan’s control over the region, and by promoting the construction of the corridor, China intends to meddle in the Kashmir dispute. These concerns are unwarranted,” the Global Times, a nationalistic, state-controlled tabloid, said on Friday.
India’s lukewarm response to the BRI is said to be primarily because of the CPEC passing through PoK, besides of course New Delhi’s unease with China’s relentless pursuit of south Asian countries to join the initiative.
“Fact is CPEC is part of this particular initiative and CPEC violates India’s sovereignty because it runs through PoK. Therefore, since they are a country very sensitive about sovereignty concerns, it was for them to see how a country whose sovereignty has been violated can come on (such) an invitation,” Jaishankar told Indian media about an invite to take part in a BRI event in May in Beijing.
“We would like to see what proposals anybody has in that regard. We were very frank with them to share our concerns,” he said.
For Chinese state media, as it turns out, that’s hardly a concern.
“China has no intention of interfering in the territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. China has long believed that the two neighbours should solve their dispute through dialogue and consultations, and it has repeatedly emphasised that the construction of the CPEC would not affect its stance on the issue,” the article by author, Yu Ning, said, avoiding the issue of sovereignty.
China, if the article is to be believed, respects India’s sovereignty concerns but, it added, New Delhi should take an objective view of the BRI.
“China respects India’s sovereignty concerns. Taking a strong stand on territorial issues is important, but it’s hoped India could adopt an objective and more pragmatic attitude toward the One Belt, One Road proposal,” it said.
In fact, it suggested, India, thanks to the BRI and CPEC, could resolve “misunderstandings” over “disputed Kashmir” with Pakistan through economic cooperation.
“India should not view Pakistan’s development as a threat. As long as India is willing to, China, Pakistan and India could cooperate to tap the vast economic potential in the disputed Kashmir region,” it said.
“It’s estimated that the CPEC could pave the way for about 1 million new jobs and could attract a strong influx of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the region. India should seize the opportunity to allay misunderstandings with Pakistan through economic cooperation,” the write-up said