By Yu Ning
Many observers consider the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) an important opportunity, not only for the potential economic benefits it brings to China and Pakistan, but also because it allows greater cooperation among nations in the region. Yet, it has made neighboring India apprehensive.
Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Wednesday accused the economic corridor of violating India’s sovereignty as it runs through the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. He also said China must explain how India, “whose sovereignty has been violated,” can take part in the Belt and Road summit in May in Beijing.
New Delhi fears that the CPEC, passing through the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, would serve the purpose of granting legitimacy to Pakistan’s control over the region, and by promoting the construction of the corridor, China intends to meddle in the Kashmir dispute. These concerns are unwarranted.
China has no intention of interfering in the territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. China has long believed that the two neighbors should solve their dispute through dialogue and consultations, and it has repeatedly emphasized that the construction of the CPEC would not affect its stance on the issue.
China respects India’s sovereignty concerns. Taking a strong stand on territorial issues is important, but it’s hoped India could adopt an objective and more pragmatic attitude toward the One Belt, One Road proposal. China proposed this initiative to link countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. The initiative is aimed at promoting an open and inclusive global economy by building cohesive regional trade networks and enhancing connectivity for future growth. It does not target any third country, but hopes more countries become a part of it.
India should not view Pakistan’s development as a threat. As long as India is willing to, China, Pakistan and India could cooperate to tap the vast economic potential in the disputed Kashmir region. It’s estimated that the CPEC could pave the way for about 1 million new jobs and could attract a strong influx of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the region. India should seize the opportunity to allay misunderstandings with Pakistan through economic cooperation.
By joining the CPEC, India will not only benefit economically, but could also make itself a pioneer in regional economic integration to better fulfill its ambition of becoming an influential regional economic power. China and Pakistan have frequently invited India to the CPEC, and we hope India responds to the call.