The China Pakistan Economic Corridor, (CPEC) is actually a part of China’s much publicized One Belt One Road programme that has been making rounds in political circles for quite some time. In fact it is the New Silk Road concept of the Chinese leadership primarily meant to extend China’s influence in larger parts of Asian and European continents.
India registered her protest to the gala function of inaugurating formally the 124 billion dollar project called One Belt One Road in Beijing. No astute political commentator or strategist will accept that the sponsors of the project, China and Pakistan, have only trade interests in floating the project. They are blowing hot and cold in the same breath. If the corridor is purely connected with trade and commerce then why call it a game changer, a historical event and give it many other distinctions. India had reasons to decline participation. Let us try to understand.
First and foremost we reflect on the geography of the corridor. Starting somewhere in Sinkiang, the western province of China, the road passes over the part of Aksaichin, which has been illegally ceded by Pakistan to China. This is originally Indian Territory and since Pakistan was occupying if after the fall of Gilgit in 1947, Pakistan retained it illegally. In 1963, Pakistan ceded nearly 5,000 square kms of this territory called Aksaichin enabling China to build road and rail link to Tibet. In return, Pakistan got assurance from China that it would lend its support to the cause of Pakistan’s claims over Kashmir. By participating in the inaugural function, India would have given an opportunity to Pakistan to tell the world that India had accepted Pakistan’s/China’s sovereignty over Aksaichin which in fact is Indian Territory.
In recent days, while China and Pakistan were jointly working on the CPEC, China made it clear to Pakistan that it should decide the uncertainty about the sovereignty of the area over which the corridor would be passing. Under pressure from Beijing, Pakistan had announced that she was contemplating integration of Gilgit and Baltistan as the fifth province of Pakistan. This was said only through word of mouth and so far no formal orders have been issued by Pakistan that would put the seal of finality on the status of Gilgit and Baltistan. It is true that both China and Pakistan did link the entire issue to the politics of J&K. New Delhi understands that by agreeing to participate in the corridor meet, India would indirectly concede that Gilgit, Baltistan and Aksaichin were part of Pakistan. India could never do that.
Nobody should be under the misconception that the heart of the proposed corridor was the heart of trouble of rivalry which China harbours against India. We know that the contemplated CPEC has strong military dimensions. Some important world leaders did show up at the function of CPEC organized by China in Beijing. Either they are still unaware of larger territorial and commercial interests of China or they are little informed on what is called the string of pearls. China nurses the ambition of monitoring the Gulf from which two-third of world oil produce is exported. China has her eye on the huge mineral wealth of Afghanistan especially the copper mines and would never like that India takes longer steps to grab access to these mineral resources. China has made large investments in the region including Afghanistan and has been seeking a military base in the KP area of Pakistan. China opposed India’s proposal in the Security Council to designate the LeT leader Lakhvi as terrorist who was responsible for Mumbai attacks. It is because China lends outright support to the terrorist outfits raised by Pakistan on its soil. Pakistan has allowed China to be militarily present in Gilgit under the rubric of developmental activities. China has been issuing visa to the citizens of Indian part of J&K on separate sheet of paper against the universally accepted norms. All this shows that China is not behaving in a friendly manner. The so-called CPEC is in reality a strategic and military exercise of China to change the geostrategic plan of the entire region. It means allowing China to grab Gilgit- Baltistan, pose military threat to us in J&K, complete the necklace of pearls and make her naval presence viciously felt in the Indian Ocean including police manning of the Gulf.