India should cooperate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) despite it passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, in the same way Beijing doesn’t object to New Delhi having economic ties with Taipei, the state media argued on Monday.
Equating the status of the disputed region of PoK with Taiwan as a “sovereignty” issue, the comment piece in the state media argued that India should be “pragmatic” about the CPEC and participate in the $46 billion project for economic benefits.
The Communist country sees Taiwan as a breakaway region. India’s argument against the CPEC – part of the larger China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) connectivity project – has been that it violates India’s sovereignty.
China doesn’t object to India-Taiwan trade ties. So, New Delhi should not only have no problem with China-Pakistan economic ties through the CPEC but it should actively join in them, the article argued.
Taiwan, an independent democracy with a free press, is officially known as the Republic of China and was the island where Kuomintang rebels fled after losing the civil war to the Communist Party of China in 1949.
Since then, Beijing claims Taiwan as a breakaway region to be reunited by force if necessary. A majority of countries, including India, follow the “One-China” policy or the policy of recognising China’s authority, not Taiwan’s.
But many countries such as India also maintain trade and economic ties with Taiwan – so does China itself, while calling it one of its “provinces”.
India-Taiwan trade stands at around $5 billion while China-Taiwan trade, according to state media, was nearly $180 billion in 2016.
Long Xingchun from the Centre for Indian Studies at China West Normal University equated Taiwan’s status with the status of PoK, which India claims as its territory.
“Beijing has reiterated its stance on the India-Pakistan disputes over Kashmir many times. Just like the Taiwan question, Beijing doesn't object to any economic links between Taiwan and other countries including India, because economic activities won't alter China's sovereignty over the island,” Long wrote in the piece for the nationalistic tabloid Global Times.
Long said: “The CPEC won't affect the status quo of Kashmir disputes. The project itself is an economic plan set to connect China and Pakistan and advance Pakistan's economy and improve the lives of its people.
“The investment from Chinese companies and their participation in some architectural construction won't affect the situation of Kashmir either,” he said. “Hence, India should be flexible and pragmatic, and be more open to economic activities in the Kashmir region conducted by Chinese companies.”
The CPEC, Long said, could be brought to Kashmir, which China and its media refer to as India-administered Kashmir, to alleviate poverty.
“The CPEC, however, will boost the economic development in the region, bringing jobs and improving the quality of life. The project can be extended to the India-administered Kashmir area if India allows, and benefit the Indian people, as well as regional stability.”