China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced today that India was among 92 countries that would send official representation to its May 14 Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, while he reaffirmed China’s stand on projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) saying they “had no relationship with the dispute”.Defending the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, parts of which pass through PoK, the Chinese Foreign Minister said China’s projects in the region had predated CPEC by many years and had no relation to the Kashmir dispute.
“As for disputes in Kashmir, China’s position has remained unchanged. The CPEC has no relationship with the dispute in certain regions. I want to reaffirm this to our Indian friends,” he told a briefing in Beijing.
While Indian officials had previously said India was undecided on attending the “Belt and Road Forum” given its concerns on CPEC, Wang indicated China had been told of India’s participation.
“Although the Indian leader will not be here, India will have a representative. We welcome the Indian representative as well as members of the business and finance community to take part in the summit,” Wang said.
The Indian Embassy in Beijing did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his remarks.
CPEC NOT RELATED TO BORDER DISPUTES
Wang argued that the dispute in PoK predated CPEC – as did China’s projects there, such as the Karakoram highway – and that it had no bearing on China’s stand on Kashmir, that it did not take sides and was for India and Pakistan to resolve.
“I want to mention that the CPEC is economic, and for the purpose of serving economic cooperation and development. It has no direct link with political or border disputes,” he said. “Certain sections of the CPEC have raised concerns on the Indian side but these disputes are not the result of the economic corridor and the economic activities in this region are not the direct result of CPEC. China has been providing support to Pakistan in these areas for many, many years. This is a contribution China is making for development of our neighbouring countries.”
Wang added, “I want to say we welcome India’s participation in the building of the Belt and Road. Both are developing countries and the most important task for us is to speed up development so that our peoples will live a better life. The Belt and Road is for the purpose of common development of all participants. We will provide opportunities for participants to build on their complementarity, including investments in infrastructure. So we welcome India to take an active part in building the Belt and Road.”