Wednesday, 7 September 2016

China can’t wait for India - Pak to settle Kashmir issue: Expert

China can’t wait for India - Pak to settle Kashmir issue: Expert
China cannot wait for India and Pakistan to settle the Kashmir issue before going ahead with a transit and transport project that passes through PoK, a leading Chinese expert has said while comparing the venture to developmental projects in Arunachal Pradesh which is claimed by Beijing.

If India can carry out developmental projects in Arunachal Pradesh, China can do the same in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), said Hu Shisheng, South Asia expert at the influential China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR).
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising the issue of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during his meeting with President Xi Jinping on the margins of the G20 Summit, Hu said India can oppose the project passing through PoK in the same way China continues to oppose schemes in the “eastern disputed area” or Arunachal Pradesh.

China claims the whole of Arunachal Pradesh and calls it South Tibet.
On the other hand, India has repeatedly objected to the $46-billion CPEC because a key part of the project linking Pakistan’s Gwadar port to China’s Kashgar city passes through PoK. It has also conveyed its concerns to Pakistan and China.
Hu said China cannot wait for India and Pakistan to settle their disputes in Kashmir while terrorism spilled over to Xinjiang in the country’s northwest, Hu said. “Then China’s Xinjiang (which shares a border with PoK) will be full of conflicts. That is too risky,” he added.

He argued that the CPEC is needed because of the radicalisation of Pakistan. The project is one way to improve economic conditions and wean youth away from terrorism, he said.

“For China, we tend to regard the CPEC as one way to address radicalisation, the extremist issues, terrorism issues, which exist in Pakistan. Because we tend to believe that lack of development and large-scale poverty provides fertile ground for this kind of violent cultures,” Hu said.

The CPEC is aimed at socio-economic development and will not affect India’s “sovereignty claims”, Hu said. “CPEC is fundamentally a development project not aimed at sovereignty,” he said.

“It is said there are around 73 projects in the ‘eastern disputed area’. Did China publicly oppose the projects?” Hu asked. “However, China’s silence doesn’t mean that China has given it (Arunachal Pradesh) up,”
Long Xingchun, director of the Centre for India Studies at China West Normal University, described Pakistan as a major victim of terrorism that could benefit from development initiatives.

“India and Pakistan should work together to ease tension and keep normal state relations because there are political origins behind terrorist attacks,” Long said.
However, the experts were divided on the issue of Modi raising the issue of terrorism at the G20 Summit and a gathering of BRICS leaders.

Hu acknowledged that terrorism is a “very sensitive and disturbing issue” between India and Pakistan and said the three countries need to discuss the matter.
“Since China has a special relation with Pakistan, it is also causing some disturbances in relations with India. I think in this area, China, India and Pakistan need more communication and discussions,”

Long said the G20’s main purpose is discussing economic issues but counter-terrorism could have become India’s priority because its economic performance is better than that of other members. But the move might not achieve much.
“On the G20 forum, raising terror issue aimed at Pakistan will have very limited help to counter terrorism, other than criticising Pakistan,” he said.

Besides speaking about Pakistan’s involvement in spreading terrorism at the G20 summit, Modi raised India’s disquiet with the CPEC during his meeting with Xi and said terrorism was emanating from the very region where China was investing heavily.
But Hu said one of Pakistan’s biggest challenges is the huge number of young people who lack hope and jobs. “If India regards it as a project strategically against India’s national interests then it is very unfair. We expect India to take a constructive view of the CPEC,” he said.

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