Two top Chinese academicians today backed Pakistan on the controversial economic corridor that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir but said China should address India’s concerns over the issue as New Delhi’s stand may make others cautious in backing Beijing’s mega initiative.
In Kashmir, the CPEC mainly go though Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). This is what the Pakistani people tell the Chinese, Wang Yiwei, professor at the School of International Studies of Renmin University of China, told the media at an interaction hosted by the All China Journalists Association. “So the Chinese government is also confused. These are the problems,” he said. He said China should persuade Pakistanis to talk to Indians as it was difficult for Beijing to persuade the two countries because of lack of mutual trust between them.
“So I guess it is up to India and Pakistan, the two brothers, to make a joint consultation because CPEC has become a regional arrangement. The initiative will bring benefit to a lot of countries so there should be no worry and suspicion,” he said during the interaction. Wang, however, said China should address India’s concerns over the issue.
“India is China’s important neighbour. We must pay a lot of attention to the concerns of India about CPEC. We are now inviting India to take part in it,” he said, referring to the summit of Belt and Road, the official name for Silk Road to be held here on May 14-15.
China was ready to discuss and talk to India but maybe Pakistan was not willing to do it, as all in all projects are being built in Pakistan, he said, answering a question on India’s concerns over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
India’s objections to CPEC as it passes through PoK and its reticence to take part in the summit of Belt and Road is causing major concern among Chinese officials over fears that New Delhi’s stand may make other South Asian countries to become very cautious in backing Beijing’s mega initiative.
Wang also said that due to confusion over the alignment of the CPEC with Pakistan its costs have gone up.
“To be frank, Pakistan is not well governed and there is corruption problem as well,” said Wang, who recently visited Pakistan. He, however, defended China’s all weather ties with Pakistan specially close military cooperation for the CPEC, saying that “without a strong military it is hard to resist terrorist forces.”
“China will not simply support the military. Pakistan is a civilian government. We will urge the Pakistani government to improve its capacity to govern but generally speaking it is a problem between friends,” he said. Another Chinese academic, Prof Lin Minwang, of the Institute of International Studies of Fudan University, said India’s participation in the Belt and Road (B&R) is important as it constitutes to 80 per cent of South Asia’s economy.
“As an important country in South Asia, India’s economy accounts for 80 per cent in the region, so if New Delhi is reluctant to get involved in China’s development plan, other countries in the region will also be impacted when participating in the B&R initiative. That’s why the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor’s (BCIM) progress is very slow,” he told state-run Global Times.
India is concerned that the Gwadar port construction and economic corridors will provide excuses for China to send its navy and increase military presence in the region, and India’s status in the region will be challenged, Lin said.
He said that like China has addressed Russia’s concerns over B&R initiative, it should do the same with India.
“China connected the initiative with Russia’s ‘Eurasian Economic Union,’ which won Russia’s support, as Russia acquired more rights to know and a bigger say in the cooperation,” Lin said. He suggested that India has its own strategies to promote trade and infrastructure like Project Mausam and the Spice Route with which China can work out linkages.
The B&R includes a maze of roads and port projects. While CPEC is highlighted as “flagship project”, it included BCIM, New Eurasian Land Bridge, China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor and 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
Twenty heads of state and government confirmed to take part in the B&R summit. While most of the Western countries stayed away from it over apprehensions about China’s strategic initiative, from South Asia only Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickramasinge have confirmed their participation. India is yet to name its representative amid speculation that it may depute an official for it.