China Ready To Consider Renaming Mega Project

Luo Zhaohui, the Chinese Ambassador to India, has hinted that the Asian giant is open to renaming its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative due to India’s reservations over the mega project.
In a rare first, a senior Chinese diplomat officially acknowledged India’s reservations over Beijing’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) project – one of the largest development plans in modern history. Speaking at a press conference in New Delhi on May 7, Luo said that India is against the plan, as the CPEC passes through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. “China has no intention to get involved in the sovereignty and territorial disputes between India and Pakistan,” he added.
The seasoned diplomat expressed hope that India would allow China to implement the project, if Beijing agreed to rename the project. For Beijing, it becomes crucial to address India’s sovereignty concerns, he told the press. Luo assured the top Indian political leadership that China would always support the resolution of Kashmir “bilaterally” in line with New Delhi’s view. He recalled that Beijing “supported a settlement through bilateral negotiation in line with the Simla Agreement”, stressing: “This is an example of China taking care of India’s concern.” According to the envoy, Beijing has no plan to change its stand on the Kashmir issue.
The ambassador told the press that the top political leadership in Beijing accepted New Delhi’s argument that the mega economic project is posing a serious threat to India’s sovereignty. Recently, Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said the very name of the project suggests that China was endorsing Pakistani territorial claims. Commenting on the issue, Luo said that Beijing would never back Pakistan’s stand. However, it is still not clear whether India will join the initiative, if China de-links CPEC from OBOR, he added. The envoy criticised the Chinese media for requesting Beijing to change its stance on Kashmir, saying: “That’s not our official view and there is no change. China supports the solution of the disputes through negotiations between the two countries.”
The senior diplomat also criticised the Indian media for saying that “China always puts Pakistan first when handling its relations with South Asian countries”. He made clear that “we always put China first”. Both India and Pakistan should remember that “China deals with problems based on their own merits”, he insisted.
Luo once again assured the international community that China would try hard to promote economic co-operation and regional connectivity through the CPEC project. “It has no connections to or impact on sovereignty issues. China and India have had successful experience of de-linking sovereignty disputes with bilateral relations before,” he said. The envoy stressed: “In history, we have had close co-operation along the ancient Silk Road. Why shouldn’t we support this kind of co-operation today? In a word, China is sincere in its intention to co-operate with India on the OBOR, as it is good for both of us.”
Meanwhile, Luo advised New Delhi to resume negotiation of China-India Free Trade Agreement and to explore the possibility of aligning China’s OBOR and India’s Act East Policy.

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