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China dismisses India’s concerns over OBOR, cites global support for CPEC

LiveMint logoLiveMint 15-05-2017 K.J.M. Varma

Beijing: China on Monday dismissed India’s concerns over its Belt and Road initiative, saying the mega venture has broad international support and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which is a part of it, will not affect Beijing’s stand on Kashmir.

Reacting to India’s reservations over the CPEC, a flagship project of China’s prestigious One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, the Chinese foreign ministry said over 100 countries and organisations were already involved in the venture. “The Belt and Road initiative was proposed in 2013, and four years on, over 100 countries around the world and international organisations have supported and got involved in this initiative,” the foreign ministry said. The Chinese foreign ministry’s response came over the remarks of external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay, who had asserted two days ago that India cannot accept a project that violates its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

India skipped the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) due to its sovereignty concerns over the $50 billion CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The Chinese foreign ministry, however, was silent on India’s boycott of the Belt and Road Forum that ended on Monday. “Important resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly and Security Council contain reference to it. In the speech made by President Xi Jinping on the morning of May 14 at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, he elaborated on the progress and achievements of the initiative over these years in terms of policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.

“All these (developments) show that the Belt and Road initiative responds to the trend of the times, conforms to the law of development, and meets the people’s interests,” it said. The ministry asserted that the venture has broad prospects and the international community’s “warm response” to the BRF also “speaks volumes” for the initiative. The Chinese foreign ministry referred to President Xi Jinping’s remarks after he inaugurating the BRF in which he had said that the Belt and Road should be built into a road for peace. It also reffered to Xi’s remarks in which, while skirting any references to India’s absence at the meeting, he had said, “All countries should respect each other’s sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity, each other’s development paths and social systems, and each other’s cores interests and major concerns.”

“Regarding the issue of Kashmir which the Indian side is concerned about, we have been stressing that the issue was left over from history between India and Pakistan, and should be properly addressed by the two sides through consultation and negotiation,” the Chinese ministry said, reiterating its stand. “The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is an initiative on economic cooperation. It is not directed at any third party, not relevant to disputes over territorial sovereignty and does not affect China’s position on the Kashmir issue,” it said.

The Chinese foreign ministry’s assertions come a day after India boycotted China’s high-profile BRF, taking its protest over the CPEC to a new level. No Indian official of any level was present at the elaborate opening ceremony on Sunday, attended by 29 heads of state and government, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, along with top officials of the world bodies like the UN, the World Bank and the IMF. PTI

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