Soon after China offered to rename the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, for India’s benefit, it appears to have had second thoughts about the gesture. The portion of the speech made by China’s ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, which dealt with the proposed renaming of the project has been removed from a transcript posted on the Chinese government’s website on Tuesday.
Luo, in a speech at the United Service Institution of India in New Delhi on Friday, had said China had no intention of getting involved in the sovereignty and territorial disputes between India and Pakistan and that the project would only promote economic cooperation and regional connectivity. “It [the CPEC] has no connections to or impact on sovereignty issues. We can even think about renaming the CPEC. China and India have had successful experience of de-linking sovereignty disputes from bilateral relations before,” the diplomat had said. India has been critical of the CPEC, saying the project violates its sovereignty as it runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The text of the ambassador’s speech, posted on the country’s official website, reads: “India still has reservations over the One Belt, One Road [project], saying the CPEC passes through Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, raising sovereignty concerns...China supports the solution of the disputes through bilateral negotiations between the two countries. The CPEC is for promoting economic cooperation and connectivity...In history, we have had close cooperation along the ancient Silk Road. Why shouldn’t we support this kind of cooperation today?”
Zhaohui’s speech in New Delhi had reportedly angered the Pakistan government, which then raised the matter with China. A private Pakistani TV channel, quoting officials in the country’s Ministry of Planning and Development, reported that Pakistani officials had written to the Chinese authorities in Islamabad on the matter. “We are awaiting Chinese clarification on this situation,” the officials were quoted by Geo News as saying on Monday.