Beijing: China on Wednesday denied that it has plans of mediating between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue due to its investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, saying the USD 50 billion project has not affected its stand that the vexed issue should be settled bilaterally.
China’s clarification came a day after an article in the Global Times said that Beijing now has a “vested interest” in mediating between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue because of its hefty investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through PoK.
“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,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in Beijing.
He also said that China will play a “constructive role” for the improvement of relations between India and Pakistan. “The building of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) does not affect China’s position on this issue,” he said in a written response to a question about the article in the state-run Global Times, a ruling Communist Party of China publication.
“We sincerely hope that India and Pakistan will properly handle differences by increasing communication and dialogue, and jointly uphold regional peace and stability. China is willing to make constructive efforts for the improvement of India-Pakistan relations,” Geng said.
The article on Tuesday sparked concerns about a shift in China’s stand on the Kashmir issue as India is averse to any third-party mediation.
The article had also sought to justify Chinese intervention in bilateral disputes on the grounds of protecting heavy investments being made by Beijing under its Silk Road initiative, which is officially called the ‘One Belt and One Road’ project.
The article had said China cannot turn a “deaf ear” to protect heavy investments by its firms in the CPEC and the Silk Road projects by continuing with its policy of non-interference.
“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,” it had said. This was perhaps the first time that the Chinese official media floated Beijing’s interest in playing a mediatory role to resolve the Kashmir issue.