Beijing, China on Thursday again invoked the Panchsheel agreement to discuss the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with India, a multi-million dollar project that has emerged as the latest irritant between the two countries.
Beijing again sought to allay New Delhi’s fear that China would meddle in the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.
“I think we have already had so much discussion on this issue. We have expressed our position many times on CPEC,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said here.
“I want to reiterate that we would like to follow the five principles of co-existence in developing friendly relations with other countries, including our efforts in promoting regional connectivity,” Hua said, referring to the Panchsheel pact.
“I am sure you would have noticed that during the Belt and Road Forum of International Cooperation, President Xi also said that we would follow the principle of peaceful coexistence to promote friendly cooperation along the Belt and Road.
“So I think in this way the concerns from the Indian side must be addressed.”
In 1954, India and China signed five principles of peaceful co-existence or Panchsheel that talked about mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence.
But the two neighbours fought a brief war in 1962.
The CPEC has emerged as the sore point between India and China.
The $46 billion economic route passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, claimed by New Delhi.
The CPEC is one of the key components of China’s Belt and Road project, which aims to connect Asia, Europe, and Africa through a network of roads, railway lines and ports.
India skipped the Belt and Road forum in Beijing in opposition to the CPEC.
“We have already expressed our position as you can see the Belt and Road Initiative is an open and inclusive one and follows the principles of extensive consultations and shared benefits. The CPEC is an important part of the belt and road will bring benefit to regional connectivity and common development and prosperity.” Hua said.
“Regarding the Kashmir region, as we said before, it is an issue between India and Pakistan and the Belt and Road initiative will not change China’s positions on the Kashmir issue.” she added.