In a diplomatic embarrassment, China has removed the remarks of its envoy in India offering to rename the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) from the transcript of his speech posted on the Chinese embassy website. Chinese ambassador to New Delhi Luo Zhaohui’s remarks that “Even we can think about renaming the CPEC” has been removed from his speech copy posted on the Chinese embassy website.
Seeking to allay India’s concerns, ambassador Luo had offered to rename the CPEC which passes through Pakistan- occupied Kashmir, insisting it was an economic cooperation and connectivity enhancement project devoid of “sovereignty issues”. He also pushed for New Delhi’s participation in the ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) project.
Referring to the CPEC, which is part of OBOR, he said China has no intention to get involved in the sovereignty and territorial disputes between India and Pakistan and that the project is for promoting economic cooperation and connectivity in the region. “It has no connections to or impact on sovereignty issues. Even we can think about renaming the CPEC. China and India have had successful experience of delinking sovereignty disputes from bilateral relations before,” he had said in closed-door address to a think-tank last Friday.
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Meanwhile in Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry parried questions over the Chinese embassy removing the much- publicised offer of renaming the CPEC from Luo’s speech. “You just mentioned a statement of Ambassador Lou Zhaohui while attending an activity in India,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media here replying to a volley of questions on why the key line expressing China’s willingness to rename the USD 50 billion CPEC was dropped.
“According to my understanding, the Chinese embassy in India released information about the Ambassador’s attendance and relevant activities. If you are interested I suggest you use the internet for more information,” Geng said. Asked whether Pakistan has sought clarification from China over the renaming of CPEC as per the reports from Islamabad, Geng said, “I am not aware of that. As for the ambassador’s participation and his speech, the embassy has released relevant information on the website.”
To another question whether the ambassador was speaking for the Chinese government when he said China was open to renaming the CPEC, Geng said, “You have been asking questions about renaming the corridor. I suggest that information about relevant actives of the ambassador and his speech, the Chinese embassy has put relevant information on the its website. You can check the the website. I have nothing more to offer.”