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India has protested to China over the CPEC and is yet to name an official delegation to take part in a summit of the Belt and Road initiative, of which CPEC is a part. Photo: Bloomberg
India has protested to China over the CPEC and is yet to name an official delegation to take part in a summit of the Belt and Road initiative, of which CPEC is a part. Photo: Bloomberg

China keen on helping resolve Kashmir dispute due to CPEC investment: report

China's The Global Times says Beijing has a vested interest in helping resolve the dispute over Kashmir due to heavy investments in the CPEC

New Delhi: Close on the heels of Turkey calling for a “multilateral dialogue" to resolve the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, a publication linked to the Communist Party of China on Tuesday said the Asian giant has a “vested interest" in mediation between the South Asian neighbours due to its huge investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through disputed Kashmir.

The Global Times in an article said that China had mediated between Myanmar and Bangladesh over the Rohingya refugees issue “given that Myanmar is a key point along the One Belt, One Road route".

The “One Belt, One Road" reference is to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s landmark programme to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects including railways, ports and power grids across Asia, Africa and Europe.

Part of it, i.e. the CPEC that cuts through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, is a sore point with India.

This is one of the rare instances of China’s official media airing Beijing’s interest in playing a mediatory role to resolve the Kashmir issue. New Delhi has always been wary of mediation efforts by any third party, preferring to resolve the issue bilaterally with Pakistan, though Islamabad has been in favour of third-party mediation.

Given China’s status of being Pakistan’s professed “all-weather friend" and ally, the Global Times article is likely to cause discomfiture in New Delhi.

China’s official stand on Kashmir is that it is a dispute left over from history and should be resolved between India and Pakistan though Beijing has been stepping up its investments in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

India’s ties with China are at present tense given Beijing’s support for Pakistan’s candidature for a Nuclear Suppliers’ Group seat, its blocking of Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Maulana Masood Azhar from being designated a terrorist at the United Nations and several other irritants. Ties between the Asian giants have been riddled with suspicion following their 1962 border war and an unsettled frontier.

China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, “but that doesn’t mean Beijing can turn a deaf ear to the demands of Chinese enterprises for protecting their overseas investments," the Global Times article said.

“Given the massive investment that China has made in countries along the One Belt, One Road, China now has a vested interest in helping resolve regional conflicts including the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan," it said.

“With China’s rise, Beijing gradually has gained ability to mediate in conflicts outside the country. For instance, China could strengthen the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar," it said.

China’s mediation efforts between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the Rohingya refugees issue can help it “gather experience, which could perhaps serve as a prelude to future efforts by China to engage in regional affairs in South Asia and South-east Asia. China has been at the centre of a regional power shift, thus the country now needs to learn how to act as a stabilizing force and conflict mediator in the region," the article said, giving an insight into the future role the country is eyeing for itself as a peace broker.

China is planning a major summit of leaders from South and South-east Asia besides Europe later this month to discuss the “One Belt, One Road" project.

The CPEC project will link the Pakistani city of Gwadar to China’s Xinjiang via a vast network of highways and railways.

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