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China Gilgit gambit is strategic says expert

China has massive presence in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, said a US-based activist from Gilgit who added that massive investments were made by Beijing in that frontier region to expand the Karakoram Corridor as a strategic pathway.

world Updated: Sep 02, 2010 23:28 IST

China has massive presence in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, said a US-based activist from Gilgit who added that massive investments were made by Beijing in that frontier region to expand the Karakoram Corridor as a strategic pathway.

Washingon-based political activist Senge H. Sering, a former visiting fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), warned the Indian government about the Chinese presence over the years in Pakistani Kashmir.

Sering has spoken about massive investments made by China in the frontier region to expand the Karakoram Corridor as a strategic pathway to the sea lanes linking to West Asia.

Highlighting the multifaceted character of Chinese presence in the Gilgit-Baltistan province, Sering said China-Pakistan cooperation in the corridor includes expansion of the Karakoram Highway (KH), construction of a parallel railway line as well as oil and gas pipelines, which will give China rapid connectivity to Pakistani ports lying in the gateway to the Strait of Hormuz and Suez Canal.

The region's close proximity to Afghanistan, Tajikistan and India, in addition to Tibet and Xinjiang, gives China diplomatic, strategic, logistical and political gains, he said.

He added that by linking the KH to Pakistani ports like Gwadar and Ormara, China will not just gain a strategic footprint and access to Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf but also could significantly influence the geopolitics and trade in the Indian Ocean Region as well as Central Asia.

Sering stated that the Gwadar-Karakoram Corridor combination endows China with a massive logistical advantage by significantly reducing the original distance of 16,000 km to a mere 2,500 km for the Chinese industrial areas to the Persian Gulf.

The activist warned that when linked to the upcoming Urumqi-Beijing rail link, the commute time from central and eastern China to the Pakistani ports will come to a "mere few hours".