China on Thursday brushed aside India’s worries about an ambitious China-Pakistan economic corridor passing by close to its borders through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK), saying it wasn’t directed at a “third” country.
Instead, the Chinese foreign ministry had a piece of advice on the Kashmir dispute it never loses an opportunity to give: it said the historical issue should be resolved through dialogue and consultation.
“The Kashmir issue one left over from history between Indian and Pakistan and should be properly resolved through dialogue and consultation between the two countries,” foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said at the regular press briefing on Thursday.
The economic corridor is planned to connect China’s far western Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s Gwadar port, giving Beijing access to the Arabian Sea.
Hua did not directly answer whether the planned Sino-Pakistan economic corridor will pass through PoK, only saying that discussions on it were taken forward during talks between visiting Pakistan President, Mamnoon Hussain and the Chinese leadership including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
She said the second meeting of the bilateral joint committee was held to take forward the plans for the corridor.
“With regard to whether the economic corridor passing through Kashmir, as far as I have learnt a joint committee for the construction (of the corridor) has been established and the second meeting has been held coinciding with Pakistan President’s visit,” Hua said without clarifying the corridor route.
“This meeting has had in-depth exchange of views on planning and construction of the corridor as well as energy cooperation and information and technical fields,” she said.
“I don’t know if they have talked ahout whether this corridor will pass through this region (PoK) but I can tell you that we hope Kashmir issue can be properly resolved through consultation and negotiations between India and Pakistan,” Hua said.
She added that China’s position was “clear” on the issue of the corridor.
“Our cooperation in relevant areas is to improve well being. Our (Sino-Pakistan) cooperation is not directed at a third party,” she said.
The spokesperson added that China and Pakistan have agreed to develop their “traditional friendship” and translate into practical cooperation in various fields.
“ For example, we will press ahead with the construction of the China-Pakistan corridor, construction of the Gwadar port as well as construction of industrial parks and other infrastructure. We will also step up negotiation on free trade areas,” Hua said.