Third party involvement in CPEC is inherently illegal in India: MEA

27 July, 2022 | Pragati Singh


The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated on Tuesday that the government has observed reports of third nations engaging in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, and that any such co...

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated on Tuesday that the government has observed reports of third nations engaging in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, and that any such conduct by any party directly violated India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

MEA spokesperson Arindam Baghchi said India firmly and consistently opposes projects in the “so-called CPEC, which are in Indian territory that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan”. “Such activities are inherently illegal, illegitimate and unacceptable, and will be treated accordingly by India,” the official statement added.

Responding to media queries regarding the participation of third countries in CPEC Projects, the MEA spokesperson Bagchi said: “We have seen reports on encouraging a proposed participation of third countries in so-called CPEC projects.”

“Any such actions by any party directly infringe on India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

The MEA reaction comes amid news that Pakistan and China have resolved to welcome any interested third nation to join the multibillion-dollar CPEC infrastructure project, which they have described as mutually beneficial collaboration.

On Friday, July 22, the CPEC Joint Working Group (JWG) on International Cooperation and Coordination (JWG-ICC) held its third virtual meeting.

China unveiled the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project in Pakistan in 2015, including Balochistan as a key component.

CPEC is a component of China’s most ambitious initiative, the ‘Belt and Road Initiative,’ which aims to revitalise the country’s ancient trading routes in south-east Asian coastal countries.

It will connect Pakistan’s southern Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with China’s western Xinjiang province. It also includes ambitions to build road, rail, and oil pipeline linkages between China and the Middle East. The Baloch have been vocal in their opposition to China’s growing presence in the province.

The CPEC has not helped the people of Balochistan, while other provinces have reaped the benefits of the megaproject. This has sparked massive demonstrations since the Chinese are seen as encroachers sucking out all of the region’s resources.

According to media sources, Beijing has been exploiting the CPEC to acquire control of the Gwadar port and the Gilgit-Baltistan area.

Gwadar port, located on the Arabian Sea, would allow China to have a say in global energy economics by allowing the nation to dominate marine commerce moving between West Asia.

It is critical for China to take control of the Gilgit-Baltistan area (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir PoK) since it borders China’s Xinjiang province.

Since 2010, there have been rumours of China’s increasing presence in the Gilgit-Baltistan area. Several Chinese soldiers were said to be stationed in the region in 2010 to safeguard road linkages and undertake infrastructure projects, including over two dozen tunnels. Following the introduction of CPEC three years later, China’s involvement in the area expanded.

The Chinese megaprojects are having a negative influence on the ecology in Gilgit-Baltistan, causing unmanageable pollution and permanent depletion of aquatic habitats.

Pakistan and China are starting construction on mega-dams, oil and gas pipelines, and uranium and heavy metal mining in Gilgit-Baltistan under the banner of CPEC.

CPEC has been a major source of militancy and even terror attacks, as well as a source of frustration for local populations ranging from Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the north to Sindh and Balochistan in the south, who feel neglected and marginalised as their resources are transferred to Punjab, big cities, and now China.

Even Islamabad is seeing an increase in instability and protests from residents of Balochistan, Gwadar, and other locations, who accuse the government of denying them of basic services and rights.