Skirting questions whether it is willing to rename the USD 50 billion CPEC traversing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, China today said it believes in the Panchsheel principles of “mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty”. “We have expressed our position on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told media here when asked whether China plans to rename the corridor as proposed by its envoy to New Delhi.
She was also asked questions about a top BJP leader’s article in a newspaper, describing CPEC as India’s Achilles’ heel. “I want to reiterate that we would like to follow the five principles (Panchsheel) of coexistence in developing friendly relations with other countries including our efforts in promoting regional,” she said.
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The first principle of Panchsheel enunciated by India and China in 1954 speaks of “mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty”.
“I am sure you also noticed that during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi Jinping also mentioned that we follow the principle of peaceful coexistence to promote the friendly cooperation along the Belt and Road. So I think in this way the concerns from the Indian side should be addressed,” she said.
“As per the concern over the Kashmir region as we said before, it is an issue between India and Pakistan. B and R will not change China’s position on the Kashmir issue. B and R is open and inclusive one,” Hua said.
Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui had offered to rename the CPEC during an address at a think-tank in New Delhi, insisting that it was an economic cooperation and connectivity enhancement project devoid of “sovereignty issues”.
However, China later removed the remarks of its envoy from the transcript of his speech posted on the embassy website, apparently after Pakistan sought a clarification on it.
Chinese official in Beijing, however, suggested that it was perhaps Luo’s personal initiative to address India’s concerns.
In the article published in a newspaper in India, BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav had described CPEC as India’s Achilles’ heel.
“Adding insult to injury for India is the very name of the project, CPEC, although the region through which it passes does not belong either to Pakistan or to China,” he said.
India skipped the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) held here on May 14-15 due to its sovereignty concerns over the CPEC which passes through PoK.