China says economic corridor project has no bearing on Kashmir issue An Orange Line Metro Train, part of a metro project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, in operation in Lahore. (Photo by ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images)
CHINA on Monday (24) defended its controversial $60 billion (£42 bn) CPEC project with Pakistan despite India’s protests, saying it is an economic initiative and has not affected its principled stand on Kashmir.
Chinese and Pakistani leaders have praised the progress of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in recent days as allies celebrated 70 years of diplomatic relations.
India has protested the CPEC, the flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as it traverses through Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The massive infrastructure project connects China’s Xinjiang province with Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
China has been defending the CPEC, saying it is not aimed at any third country. Answering questions at a media briefing in Islamabad on Monday (24), its foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the CPEC was one of the pioneering projects under the Belt and Road Initiative and has made important progress in infrastructure, energy, ports and industrial parks.
He said the Belt and Road Initiative is an open international economic cooperation initiative with the objectives of enhancing regional connectivity and achieving common development.
“We are also extending the CPEC to regional countries, including Afghanistan. This will not only boost faster economic development in Pakistan but also regional connectivity,” he said.
“China has stated its principled position on Kashmir many times. The CPEC is an economic initiative that targets no third country. It is not about territorial disputes and does not affect our principled position on the issue of Kashmir,” he said.
On the CPEC’s extension to Afghanistan, he said, ” China is having discussions with third parties, including Afghanistan”.
“The two sides are having consultations through diplomatic channels. We notice that Afghanistan imports and exports goods through Gwadar and Karachi ports. High-speed highways are also being extended to Afghanistan,” he added.