India should join CPEC to ease tensions with Pakistan and boost growth

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/23 0:23:40

"In a surprise move, a top Pakistani General has invited India to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)," Indian news agency PTI reported recently. Surprise aside, New Delhi should consider accepting the olive branch Pakistan has extended in a bid to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Such an opportunity could be transient. There is a possibility that the open attitude toward India joining the CPEC will quickly be overwhelmed by opposition voices from Pakistan if New Delhi does not respond in a timely manner to the general's overture.

The ongoing dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan makes New Delhi vigilant about the $46 billion project as it will reportedly pass through Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. However, like Pakistan, India's primary strategy is to promote economic and social development. The best way to reduce hostilities is by establishing economic cooperation based on mutual benefits to put aside what cannot be reached by a consensus.

China has no intention of using the CPEC as strategic leverage to intervene in Pakistan and India's dispute. On the contrary, China is likely to adopt an open attitude toward India joining the CPEC and would be happy to see more friendly interactions between the two South Asian neighbors. The CPEC has long been seen as a flagship project in China's Belt and Road initiative and India's involvement would be conducive in pushing forward the initiative.

India's economy has reportedly overtaken its former colonial ruler, the UK, to become the sixth-largest in the world by GDP. Now it seems the emerging economy is pushing past these current achievements. India is ramping up efforts to integrate itself into global manufacturing chains, and as such will need to boost regional economic integration and open new international trade routes to build an export-oriented economy.

India could boost its exports and slash its trade deficit with China via new trade routes that would be opened up by the CPEC. In addition, the northern part of India bordering Pakistan and India-controlled Kashmir will gain more economic growth momentum if India joins the project. It is understandable that cooperation between the traditional rivals may make India uncomfortable. However, New Delhi's attitude toward Pakistan's gesture can be a touchstone for the country's determination and courage in becoming a greater economic power.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


blog comments powered by Disqus