By Gaurav Sharma
Beijing, May 4 (IANS) Days after a commentary in a daily indicated that China could meddle in the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, Beijing on Thursday denied it would do so, saying it was a bilateral dispute.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry told IANS that Beijing will not change its position on Kashmir because of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which cuts through the disputed territory between India and Pakistan.
“China’s position on the issue of Kashmir is clear and consistent. It is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan, and shall be properly addressed by India and Pakistan through consultation and negotiation,” the ministry said in an email statement.
India has been opposed to a third party mediation in the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, the northern third of which is held by Pakistan and the southern two thirds by India.
“Building of the CPEC does not affect China’s position on this issue. We sincerely hope that India and Pakistan will properly handle differences by increasing communication and dialogue, and jointly uphold regional peace and stability.”
“China is willing to make constructive efforts for the improvement of India-Pakistan relations.”
On Tuesday, a commentary in the Global Times daily said China was ready to resolve the Kashmir dispute between because it wanted to protect the multi-billion dollar CPEC.
The $46 billion project, a key component of Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road project, connects China’s Kashgar in Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan – restive regions in both countries.
India has opposed the route, saying it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. New Delhi claims the region as its own.
China, which is hosting a mega Belt and Road Conference this month, wants India to be the part of the project.
India has been non-committal about its attendance, which is likely to receive participation by some 30 heads of state.