In a rare first, China has openly declared that it has ‘vested interest’ in helping India and Pakistan in resolving the Kashmir issue.
In the past, India rejected China’s proposal to mediate between the two South Asian neighbours to resolve the most sensitive regional issue, saying that it was a bilateral matter, which should be resolved by New Delhi and Islamabad. However, the Asian giant said on May 2 that Beijing was still ready to mediate, as it wanted to ensure peace in South Asia.
Global Times, the state-run Chinese daily, claimed that Beijing was eager to mediate between India and Pakistan due to its nearly USD 50 billion investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which passes through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. The daily urged both New Delhi and Islamabad to “trust” Beijing, saying that the Asian giant had mediated between Myanmar and Bangladesh over the Rohingya refugees issue in the past.
“China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, but that doesn’t mean Beijing can turn a deaf ear to the demands of Chinese enterprises in protecting their overseas investments,” said the Global Times.
The ruling Communist Party of China publication further requested India to join the CPEC project, stressing that the move would help the South Asian powerhouse make a steady economic progress. According to the top Chinese political leadership, New Delhi should understand the importance of economic co-operation between the Asian countries in the current global geopolitical scenario. “Given the massive investment that China has made in countries along the ‘One Belt, One Road’, China now has a vested interest in helping resolve regional conflicts, including the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan,” added the daily.
Meanwhile, the Global Times assured the international community that China’s main aim is to ensure regional peace. It added that the Asian giant, which “has been at the centre of a regional power shift”, would only act as a stabilising force in the coming days. The daily claimed that China, because of its increased economic influence, has learnt how to deal with other big powers, including India.
However, the Global Times admitted that it would be the toughest challenge for China to mediate between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue because of the deteriorating Indo-Pak ties.
Surprisingly, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi rubbished the report published in the Global Times two days after the daily suggested that Beijing could play a role in mediating the Kashmir dispute. Speaking at a press conference in the Chinese capital on May 4, Wang said that his country would keep adhering to the policy of non-interference in the conflict. “China’s position on the issue of Kashmir is clear and consistent. It is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan and shall be properly addressed by India and Pakistan through consultation and negotiation,” he stressed.
The Chinese minister met the press after the Indian Ministry of External Affairs once again rejected the Global Times’ proposal, saying in a statement that New Delhi is not in favour of any third party mediation. The ministry said that Turkey, too, was interested in mediating between India and Pakistan, but New Delhi refused to accept Ankara’s offer. During their recent meeting in New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that there is no scope for a third party mediation over the Kashmir issue no matter who is making the offer.