China on Monday said it is ready to hold talks with India to resolve differences over the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, days after India’s envoy here said the issue should not be swept under the carpet.
India has objected to the CPEC - which is the biggest project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) - as it traverses through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and has become a contentious issue in India-China relations.
Asked about Indian Ambassador to China Gautam Bambawale’s interview to state-run Global Times in which he had said that differences over CPEC should not be brushed aside, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China is willing to hold talks with India in this regard.
In his interview last week, Bambawale had said “CPEC passes through Indian-claimed territory and hence violates our territorial integrity. This is a major problem for us. We need to talk about it, not push it under the carpet”.
“I believe, the more we talk to each other, the easier it will become to resolve problems,” he said.
Reacting to the envoy’s comments, Hua said China is willing to hold talks with India on the issue.
“I the noted relevant report. Regarding the CPEC, China has repeatedly reiterated its position. As to the differences between China and India, China stands ready to communicate and hold talks with India to seek a proper solution so that these differences will not affect our general national interests. This best serves the interests of the two countries,” she said.
China in the past also evinced interest to resolve it through talks and even its envoy in New Delhi has said Beijing is willing to change the project’s name to make it more acceptable to India.
Hua also praised Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos where he said BRI is much more than just an infrastructure partnership and would go a long way in creating a shared future in a fractured world.
The BRI in the past five years has been built in a smooth way providing a large number of job opportunities and improved space and room for development, which is why it was welcomed by people in the region, Hua said.
Beijing has also been clarifying that the project, which provides a strategic connection from its Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan province on the Arabian Sea opposite India’s west coast, will not alter its stand on Kashmir which it said should be resolved bilaterally by India and Pakistan through talks.
Hua said any differences between India and China can be resolved with sincerity and mutual respect.
The parties can seek the proper solution for management of the differences, she said.
“We should not ask one party alone to solve this problem. We are willing to work with India to work with dialogue and communication for a better solution,” she said.
“CPEC is merely an economic cooperation project. It has not targeted any third party. We hope the Indian side can put this in perspective and we stand ready to strengthen cooperation with the Indian side,” she said.