CPEC Won’t Affect Kashmir’s Status Quo, China Tells India

China has once again urged India to back the multi-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a collection of infrastructure projects with the South Asian country’s arch-rival, Pakistan. And as expected, India has rejected the request since the corridor runs through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).
China made a fresh request in the second week of March, saying that it needed India’s support to successfully implement the mega project. The Chinese state-run media said that the Asian giant would like to boost trade ties with India through this corridor.
In an article published a couple of days ago, the state-run ‘Global Times’ daily said that India should show maturity and support the CPEC project, claiming that the move would not affect India’s official stance on PoK. Earlier, India warned its northern neighbour over the project, stressing that Beijing made a mistake by building a corridor on an Indian territory that is illegally occupied by Pakistan. In response, the Global Times said: “The CPEC won’t affect the status quo of Kashmir dispute as China has stated that it should be resolved between India and Pakistan.”
The daily further argued that Chinese firms’ participation in some architectural constructions in PoK would not affect the situation of Kashmir. Citing the example of Taiwan issue, it stressed: “Just like the Taiwan question, Beijing doesn’t object any economic links between Taiwan and other countries, including India, because economic activities won’t alter China’s sovereignty over the island.”
The top political leadership in Beijing, too, requested New Delhi to be “flexible and pragmatic” on this particular issue, insisting that greater economic activities in Kashmir would ultimately help the entire region grow. Beijing claimed that the CPEC would certainly boost the economic development in the region by creating job opportunities and improving the quality of life. The Asian powerhouse informed India that it would extend the project to Jammu and Kashmir, if New Delhi allowed. China defended the project, saying that a development-oriented project would make no difference to Beijing’s stand on the Kashmir issue.
However, the Narendra Modi government in India is still not ready to join the Chinese mega project. Some Indian foreign policy experts have described the project as “Corridor of Uncertainty”. They have advised the Modi government to think twice before accepting the Chinese proposal. Although China has realised the fact that trade utopia of CPEC will remain incomplete if India is kept out, India’s participation in the project could create fresh troubles for the South Asian country. According to Priyanka Singh – Associate Fellow at Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, the Indian participation could “inextricably be linked to the country’s legitimate claims on PoK”. She has argued that as “India shares a great deal of trust deficit with China and Pakistan and has a history of conflict with both”, the South Asian nation would be in deep trouble, if Beijing used the CPEC to create a “disguised political disturbance” with a high level “strategic content” in order to challenge India.
With China trying to encircle India through its enormous investment in CPEC, the Modi government may not accept Beijing’s proposal.

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