The report flagged concerns about social and environmental safeguards and the route of the CPEC passing through Kashmir.(Reuters File)
The report flagged concerns about social and environmental safeguards and the route of the CPEC passing through Kashmir.(Reuters File)

China dismisses UN body’s warning on Pakistan corridor causing tension with India

Beijing has dismissed concerns expressed by a UN body that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor could lead to tensions with India and fuel political instability in the region.
By Sutirtho Patranobis | Hindustan Times, Beijing
UPDATED ON MAY 25, 2017 10:01 PM IST

Describing the United Nations as a “partner” in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing on Thursday dismissed a UN body’s report which warned that the flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor could create tension with India and fuel political instability.

China said the report by Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific (ESCAP), a development arm of the UN, wasn’t specifically on the CPEC and had evaluated the BRI in a very positive way.

The report, issued on Tuesday and prepared at the request of the Chinese government, said the CPEC could lead to “further political instability” in the region and “create geo-political tension with India” as it passes through PoK.

India skipped the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing last week primarily because of “sovereignty” issues over CPEC passing through PoK.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang dismissed the UN’s concerns on the CPEC.

“As far as I have learned, the ESCAP did not issue any specific report on the BRI. As for CPEC passing through the controversial territory, I have said this many times, it (CPEC) is an economic initiative and it will not affect our position on the Kashmir issue,” Lu said.

He spoke in detail about the ESCAP’s positive look at the BRI.

The report had said the BRI has the potential to position the region as an epicentre for growth and trade.

“ESCAP is an important partner of our Belt and Road Initiative. The 73rd session of ESCAP was just concluded in Thailand in Bangkok. During this session, all parties spoke highly of the Belt and Road Initiative in promoting development in Asia and the Pacific,” Lu said.

”This shows support of the international community for the BRI and the report issued by the ESCAP also gave a high evaluation to the positive role played by the BRI and explained in detail how it can play a positive role.”

Lu added that the ESCAP and BRI will promote connectivity and coordinate policies, infrastructure building, financing and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

He conveniently side-stepped worries over the CPEC and other corridors mentioned in the report.

The ESCAP report referred to political instability in Afghanistan and said this could “limit the potential benefits of transit corridors to population centres near Kabul or Kandahar, as those routes traverse southern and eastern Afghanistan where the Taliban are most active”.

The CPEC, the report said, could also “lead to widespread displacement of local communities”.

“In Balochistan, there are concerns that migrants from other regions of Pakistan will render ethnic Baloch a minority in the province…In addition, Hazaras are another minority of concern. If the benefits of the proposed (CPEC) are reaped by large conglomerates, linked to Chinese or purely Punjabi interests, the identity and culture of the local population could be further marginalised,” the report said.

There were also concerns the CPEC would pass through an “already narrow strip of cultivable land” in mountainous western Pakistan, “destroying farmland and orchards”.

“The resulting resettlements would reduce local population into an ‘economically subservient minority’. Marginalisation of local population groups could re-ignite separatist movements and toughen military response from the government,” the report said. 

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