India all set to oppose China's role in PoK

New Delhi is against infra projects set up by Beijing

India all set to oppose China's role in PoK

A proposed economic corridor linking northwestern China with southern Pakistan may emerge as a major irritant during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India next month.

Before coming to New Delhi, Xi is scheduled to visit Islamabad, where he is expected to reaffirm Beijing’s commitment to a series of infrastructure projects along the proposed corridor, including quite a few in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government raising its pitch on Kashmir, New Delhi is set to lodge strong protests against the growing role of China in infrastructure development in the region, which is at the centre of a dispute between India and Pakistan.

Diplomatic sources in New Delhi said that Xi’s visit to Islamabad would provide fresh impetus to several projects to build dams, highways and power plants in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir provinces in PoK envisaged under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The proposed projects include upgrading Karakoram Highway and construction of a 487-km-long highway from Raikot in Azad Kashmir to Islamabad – both by China Road and Bridge Corporation.

Early last year, Beijing and Islamabad envisaged the economic corridor linking Kashgar in Xinjiang in northwestern China and a deep sea port at Gwadar in Balochistan in southern China.

A visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Islamabad, immediately after one to New Delhi, in May 2013 saw China and Pakistan signing a memorandum of understanding for the corridor. They followed it up with some deals, which were signed during Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Beijing.

The Chinese government also recently launched a preliminary study on the feasibility of a project to lay a 1,800-km-long rail-line to link Kashgar and Gwadar through the PoK.

Sources told Deccan Herald that New Delhi’s strong objection to Chinese involvement in infrastructure and other projects in the PoK would be strongly conveyed to Beijing “at the highest level” during the Chinese president’s visit to India in the third week of September.

According to the sources, it would be conveyed that since the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India any project undertaken by Pakistan – either on its own or in cooperation with China or any other country – in the territory under its “illegal occupation” would have “no legal basis and is completely unacceptable”.

India had conveyed to China its objections to the proposed economic corridor in September 2013 and again in April this year. Beijing, however, dismissed New Delhi’s contention, arguing that its engagement in PoK was limited to developmental projects by Chinese civilian firms.

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