CHINA WATCH [May 3 – 8] – China rejects intervening in Kashmir issue

Summary:

China rejected the suggestion of intervening in Kashmir issue, calling it a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan. China has reminded India that skipping the ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) summit this month in Beijing would not be favourable for India. Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong has sought to dispel concerns about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Pakistan’s anti-corruption body National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has signed an agreement with China to jointly oversee projects and ensure transparency.

China Rejects Meddling in Kashmir Issue:

China rejected the proposition of intervening in Kashmir issue, calling it a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan. China’s Foreign Ministry told IANS in a statement that “China’s position on the issue of Kashmir is clear and consistent. It is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan and shall be properly addressed by India and Pakistan through consultation and negotiation.”[i] The statement added that “[B]uilding of the CPEC does not affect China’s position on the issue.” The clarification on the part of Beijing came days after a commentary in the state-run Global Times argued that due to its interest of massive investments in the region, time was ripe for Beijing to play its role in resolving the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.[ii] Although China generally supports Pakistan in later’s diplomatic and military equation against India, it adheres to the policy of non-interference in Kashmir issue. Such an approach helps Beijing balance relations with New Delhi’s on the one hand, and on the other, stick to the policy of non-interference in internal affairs of other countries.

India’s Refusal to Join OBOR summit:

China has reminded India that skipping the OBOR summit this month on May 14 and 15 in Beijing would not be favourable for India. While voicing his views about New Delhi’s hesitation to send its representative to the summit, China’s Foreign Minster Wang Yi said that India would be “isolated” as a result of absence from such a massive transnational gathering.[iii] He further clarified that absence of China form Russia-China-India trilateral meeting in New Delhi was not prompted by New Delhi’s allowing of Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh. In addition to possibility of this factor being reason for India’s reluctance to join the summit, the country’s opposition to CPEC also looms large. Few days ago, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reiterated that India had “reservations over OBOR due to sovereignty issues.”[iv] In fact, India wants to score a point that New Delhi’s concerns vis-a-vis OBOR, China and China-Pakistan alignment should not be ignored so easily by Beijing.

No Environmental Problems:

Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong has sought to dispel what he called the “myths” about the CPEC. Mr. Sun asserted that neither the projects under the CPEC would create environmental problems for Pakistan nor would China transfer obsolete capacity production to the country.[v] He also said that the CEPC would not increase the financial burden on Pakistan. The Chinese envoy went on to say that his country will not look for unilateral trade surplus with Pakistan and would instead welcome and support access of Pakistani exports to China’s market. He was of the view that “China and Pakistan can play a major role in promoting the Belt and Road initiative, CPEC is one of the earliest, fastest and most effective projects.” Interestingly, all the notions that the Chinese ambassador tried to negate are based, to certain extent, on solid grounding. From the increasing trade deficit of Pakistan with China to the expected environmental fallouts of the CPEC projects, various issues lurk in the background. However, like always, the Chinese officials have shrugged off these worries and concerns.

Overseeing CPEC Projects:

Pakistan’s anti-corruption body NAB has signed an agreement with China to jointly oversee CPEC projects and ensure transparency.[vi] NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry said that NAB had for that purpose designed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to supervise workload and timelines.   He added that anti-graft agency had also introduced a new system of Combined Investigation Team (CIT) so that investigators can derive benefit from the experience and collective wisdom of senior officers. NAB has already signed with China anti-graft deals focused on CPEC. If China has waged a well-known war on corruption at top level of the government, Pakistan’s incumbent government suffers from credibility problem on this count. Just weeks ago, the country’s top court, in Panama case verdict, ordered an inquiry into the allegations of corruption against the Prime Minister’s family. Certainly, these kinds of unhealthy tendencies among Pakistani government officials are not lost on Beijing. However, it has yet to be seen if these kind of anti-graft measures will be effective in preempting misuse of resources in CPEC projects.

This report is compiled and written by Abdur Rehman Shah, Research Associate at the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), Islamabad. He tweets @abdur_shah

[i] IANS. (2017, May 4). No meddling on Kashmir: China. Retrieved on May 7, 2017, from http://ianslive.in/index.php?param=news/No_meddling_on_Kashmir_China-550070/LatestNews/

[ii] Weijia, Hu. 2017, May 1). China ready to play a greater role in resolving conflict in South & Southeast Asia. Retrieved on May 7, 2017, from http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1044849.shtml

[iii] Bagchi, Ingrain. (2017, May 6). Skipping meet will isolate India, says China. Retrieved on May 8, 2016, from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/skipping-meet-will-isolate-india-says-china/articleshow/58542577.cms

[iv] Our correspondent. (2017, May 6). Pakistan, India spar over China’s One Belt One Road initiative. Retrieved on May 8, 2017, from https://tribune.com.pk/story/1403061/pakistan-india-finance-ministers-spar-cpec-obor/

[v] Staff Reporter. (2017, May 4). CPEC won’t create environmental problems for Pakistan: China envoy. Retrieved on May 8, 2017, from https://www.dawn.com/news/1330979/cpec-wont-create-environmental-problems-for-pakistan-china-envoy

[vi] News Desk. (2017, May 7). Pakistan, China to jointly oversee CPEC projects. Retrieved on May 8, 2017, from https://tribune.com.pk/story/1403354/pakistan-china-jointly-oversee-cpec-projects/

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