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HindustanTimes Sun,24 Aug 2014

China mum on India's concerns over Gwadar port

PTI  Beijing, February 08, 2013
First Published: 15:44 IST(8/2/2013) | Last Updated: 15:46 IST(8/2/2013)

Defending its takeover of Pakistan's strategic Gwadar port as part of friendly cooperation, China on Friday kept mum on whether it has any plans to build a naval base there and concerns expressed by India.

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Asked when the Chinese state-owned company would take over the operations of the port, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China will support projects in Pakistan so long they are conducive to bilateral friendship and development.

"China and Pakistan are friendly neighbours. Over long period of time Chinese companies have been actively participating in the cooperation projects across the board," Hua told a media briefing in Beijing.

"As long as these things are conducive to China-Pakistan friendship and the development of the prosperity of the country, the Chinese side will actively support them," she said.

She did not respond to a question whether China has any plans to build a naval base as requested by Pakistan.

Chinese foreign ministry had denied any plans to build a Naval base at Gwadar in 2011 when the then Pakistan defence minister Ahmed Mukhtar said Pakistan would be more grateful if China constructed a naval base there.

Hua also did not respond to specific question about Indian defence minister AK Antony's comment expressing concern over China's take over of the port.

"Chinese are now constructing that port on Pakistan's request. In one sentence, I can say that it's a matter of concern to us. My answer is simple and straightforward," Antony said in Bangalore on Thursday.

While Chinese foreign ministry played down the project as just like many other projects undertaken by China in Pakistan, Chinese analysts earlier had said the Chinese takeover was more strategic than commercial.

China has agreed to take over the Gwadar port in the troubled Baluchistan province despite security risks due to its strategic value and not for commercial considerations, said Lin Boqiang, director of the China Centre for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University.

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