China will not stop building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) despite India’s protests but will also not side with either country over the Kashmir dispute, a state-run daily said on Tuesday.
In an editorial, the Global Times referred to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s reported concern over the corridor — worth $46 billion — in her meeting with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
“It is regrettable to see CPEC become another unharmonious factor in Sino-Indian ties but China is unlikely to give up on the idea of the CPEC because of India’s protest,” the daily said.
It said the economic corridor, which will link China’s Xinjiang province to Gwadar Port in southwestern Pakistan, “does not target any third party, India included”.
“Given that China has developed close economic ties with both India and Pakistan in recent years, Beijing is unlikely to be interested in taking a side between the two countries,” it said.
The editorial said the Kashmir dispute had made both countries “habitually vigilant,” affecting foreign investment flow into the region.
“It is the Kashmir conflict itself, rather than any alleged political intent behind the foreign investment, that creates tension in the region. Rather than prevent foreign investors from entering the region as a solution to concerns over CPEC, India should focus on its negations with Pakistan to settle the Kashmir dispute,” the tabloid said.
“It is precisely because of the region’s worsening investment environment that POK’s economy is still heavily reliant on agriculture. Also, the northern part of India bordering Pakistan and India-controlled Kashmir both lack basic infrastructure.”
The daily, a subsidiary of People’s Daily, said the CPEC “was not a zero-sum game where Pakistan gains and India loses”.
“New Delhi may need to adopt an open attitude toward CPEC so (that) the project can speed up development in the region and benefit the local population.
“Hopefully, India can also improve infrastructure in the regions bordering Pakistan to promote regional economic integration. Any way in which India can put aside politics and join in the task of economic development would be welcome.
“Economic cooperation between India, Pakistan, and China would create an open atmosphere for launching talks to solve the Kashmir dispute.
“In this regard, New Delhi may need to take the long view for its national interest,” the commentary said.