China on Thursday said it won’t meddle in the Kashmir row between India and Pakistan, calling it a bilateral dispute, days after a commentary in a daily indicated that Beijing is ready to resolve the issue because of its “vested interest”.
The Foreign Ministry told IANS that Beijing will not change its position on Jammu and Kashmir because of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which cuts through the disputed territory between India and Pakistan.
“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,” the ministry said in an email statement.
India has been opposed to third party mediation in the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, the northern third of which is held by Pakistan and the southern two thirds by India.
“Building of the CPEC does not affect China’s position on this issue. We sincerely hope that India and Pakistan will properly handle differences by increasing communication and dialogue, and jointly uphold regional peace and stability,” the ministry said.
“China is willing to make constructive efforts for the improvement of India-Pakistan relations.”
On Tuesday, a commentary in the Global Times daily said China was ready to resolve the Kashmir dispute between because it wanted to protect the multi-billion dollar CPEC.
“Given the massive investment that China has made in countries along the One Belt One Road, China now has a vested interest in helping resolve regional conflicts including the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan,” said the commentary.
“China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, but that doesn’t mean Beijing can turn a deaf ear to the demands of Chinese enterprises in protecting their overseas investments,” it said.
The $46 billion CPEC project, a key component of Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road project, connects China’s Kashgar in Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan – restive regions in both countries.
India has opposed the route, saying it passes through Pakistani Kashmir. New Delhi claims the region as its own.
China, which is hosting a mega Belt and Road Conference this month, wants India to be a part of the project.
India has been non-committal about its attendance in the conference, which is likely to see participation by some 30 heads of state.