Stating that it is an economic initiative and has not affected its principled stand on the Kashmir issue, China on Monday defended the CPEC project with Pakistan.
The remarks came as a reaction to India’s protests as the USD 60 billion project is being laid through Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Answering questions on the CPEC at a media briefing on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the CPEC as one of the pioneering projects under the BRI has made important and major 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.
Asked how China sees regional prosperity being furthered by the CPEC in view of India’s position that it passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Zhao said the project has not affected China’s principled position on Kashmir.
Leaders of China and Pakistan have praised the progress of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in recent days as the two close allies celebrated the establishment of 70 years of their diplomatic relations.
India has protested to China over 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 an economic project not aimed at any third country.
“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.