India on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, slammed China and Pakistan for their efforts to encourage third countries to join projects relating to their multi-billion dollar connectivity corridor that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
In a sharp reaction, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said such activities under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are “inherently illegal, illegitimate and unacceptable”, and will be treated accordingly by India.
The CPEC is a collection of infrastructure projects that have been under construction throughout Pakistan beginning in 2013. Originally valued at $47 billion, the value of CPEC projects bumped up to $62 billion as of 2020. New Delhi has protested the project from its inception since it passes through large chunks of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The CPEC is part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Last week, China and Pakistan extended a welcome to any country joining the multi-billion dollar economic corridor for “mutual beneficial cooperation”.
“We have seen reports on encouraging 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,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Tuesday.
“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,” he stressed.
New Delhi has consistently been critical of projects in the so-called CPEC projects which are in India’s territory that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan.”
At a meeting of the CPEC Joint Working Group (JWG) on International Cooperation and Coordination on Friday, Pakistan and China decided to welcome interested third countries to join the flagship CPEC initiative.
India’s stern stance comes at a time when Beijing has been courting the new Taliban government in Afghanistan and crafting plans to link the country by all-weather roads through Pakistan.
Big plans lagging:
The invitation by Pakistan and China to countries comes after reports emerged of the project stalling due to ground-level corruption, resistance by locals in places like Balochistan, and attacks on Chinese engineers and workers by Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists.
The CPEC is a 3,000 km route of infrastructure projects that seek to create a series of contiguous economic and trade hubs with road and rail infrastructure, linking places like China’s restive western province of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and the new Gwadar port in Pakistan’s equally unquiet Balochistan state.
Pakistani media has reported that the project is behind schedule and only three of the total 15 projects announced have been completed so far.
Till now, only three schemes have been completed by the CPEC authority, namely, Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan, Physical Infrastructure of Gwadar Port and the Free Zone Phase-1, and Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute, Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune has reported.
The CPEC is part of China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to spread Chinese investments in trade and connectivity infrastructure to bring Central Asian and European markets closer.
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