New Delhi’s objection to CPEC in Kashmir not to its own benefit

By Long Xingchun Source:Global Times Published: 2017/3/6 11:58:39

India has argued that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) poses threat to its sovereignty in Kashmir since the Beijing-initiated project goes through the disputed area that India claims. With its continuous opposition toward the CPEC, New Delhi has lodged protests against Beijing and expressed its disapproval of the project many times, triggering a new India-China friction point. That explains why India has downplayed the China-led Belt and Road initiative which includes the CPEC.

China is neutral on the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir. Since 1947, claims over the territory have led to two massive wars between India and Pakistan, with continuation of sporadic armed clashes in the past decades. China, along with the majority of the international community, remains neutral and hopes the dispute could be solved through peace talks.

When the China-Pakistan boundary agreement regarding the Xinjiang-Kashmir border was signed in 1963, both sides agreed that it was a temporary pact, and China will have negotiations with the regional administration after the disputes are solved. Despite the lukewarm China-India relations and the strengthened China-Pakistan relations later, China still stands firm with the agreement in show of China's diplomatic principles and goodwill to India, which New Delhi should recognize and appreciate.

The CPEC won't affect the status quo of Kashmir disputes. The project itself is an economic plan set to connect China and Pakistan and advance Pakistan's economy and improve the lives of its people. The investment from Chinese companies and their participation in some architectural construction won't affect the situation of Kashmir either.

Beijing has reiterated its stance on the India-Pakistan disputes over Kashmir many times. Just like the Taiwan question, Beijing doesn't object any economic links between Taiwan and other countries including India, because economic activities won't alter China's sovereignty over the island.

Hence, India should be flexible and pragmatic, and be more open to economic activities in the Kashmir region conducted by Chinese companies.

Clashes have impeded the economic development of both India and Pakistan as violence and terrorism led to underdevelopment and poverty in Kashmir. The CPEC, however, will boost the economic development in the region, bringing jobs and improving the quality of life. The project can be extended to the India-administered Kashmir area if India allows, and benefit the Indian people, as well as regional stability.

The Kashmir dispute should be solved through pragmatism. Conflicts in the past 70 years show that both sides have their own reasons to insist their claims. But, wars waged by the two countries armed with nuclear weapons are not likely to end the dispute, but will only impede domestic development.

There are politicians and public figures from India and Pakistan advocating for pragmatism in resolving the dispute of the India-Pakistan border dispute according to the Line of Control. This will help remove the barrier and improve the ties.

The author is a research fellow at the Charhar Institute and director of the Center for Indian Studies at China West Normal University.


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