By Gaurav Sharma
Beijing– India’s claim to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir has created problems for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a top Chinese scholar has said.
In an interview to IANS, Wang Yiwei, Dean, the Centre for European Studies at Renmin University, said: “Pakistani-dominated Kashmir was not India’s.”
The author of “China Connects the World, What Behind the Belt and Road Initiative” urged India to join the Belt and Road project, whose artery CPEC is opposed by New Delhi.
“India says that whole of Kashmir (including the part controlled by Pakistan) belongs to India. This is a Pakistan-dominated area, not India’s,” Wang told IANS.
“It’s a problem (for CPEC),” Wang added at his office on the campus of the red-bricked Renmin University of China.
The $46 billion CPEC has emerged as the latest sore point between India and China, the fastest-growing economies of the world who have had a history of mutual distrust after a brief war in 1962.
The CPEC is the most important of all the six routes of China’s ambitious Belt and Road project, which envisages to connect Asia with Europe.
This particular route, which links China’s Kashgar in Xingjiang with Gwadar port in Pakistan’s largest province, cuts through Gilgit-Baltistan — part of Kashmir held by Pakistan and claimed by India.
Pakistan holds the northern third of Jammu and Kashmir and India the southern two-thirds. New Delhi blames Islamabad for a separatist campaign raging in the Indian part of Kashmir.
India says it will “resolutely” oppose the corridor as it is a matter of “sovereignty”.
“In the 1960s, the Chinese government began to build Karakoram highway linking Xingjiang with Karachi. the Indian government was not against it then,” Wang said.
This highway also passes through the disputed region between India and Pakistan, which New Delhi has always considered a security threat.
Wang said India was unnecessarily concerned about CPEC, which, he said, was an economic programme.
“This is a project, not a military to contain somebody. You worry about the Indian Ocean. You worry about China’s influence in the Indian Ocean.
“India is also worried about the port. They say military … blah blah blah.”
Indian security experts fear after gaining access to Gwadar port, the Chinese will find it easy to sail into the Indian Ocean.
However, China says the project is being implemented only for economic advantages.
“If you visit the port, there are hospitals, airport and industrial park. Pakistan has suffered a lot. Every year, 1,000 people die in Karachi due to power shortage. They don’t even have a fan,” Wang said.
“India thinks Pakistan is its enemy. You should change the mentality. Pakistan is not your enemy, Pakistan is your brother. You were the same country before.”
Asked how the issue of CPEC would be resolved, Wang said: “You should ask Pakistan.”
It’s because of the CPEC that India has been non-committal about joining the Belt and Project. Also, New Delhi is highly unlikely to attend the Belt and Road conference in Beijing on May 14-15.
“However, we should do something to address India’s concern,” the scholar said. “We want India to join the Belt and Road forum. Belt and Raod is a guarantee that it’s a win-win (project).
“When you can join Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, why not join this?” Wang asked. (IANS)