India has recently rejected China’s contention that Beijing had never acknowledged Pakistan’s claims on parts of Jammu and Kashmir as final, underscoring its sustained opposition to the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project.
To overcome India’s resistance, China has revived its four-point proposal to tackle its issues with India and strengthen relations by aligning its OBOR project with New Delhi’s ‘Act East Policy’ and restarting negotiations on a free-trade pact.
India, which is unlikely to attend the May 14-15 OBOR Summit in Beijing, has opposed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)-the flagship project under OBOR as it passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir, infringing sovereignty.
The CPEC will link Kashgar in Xinjiang in China and a deep sea port at Gwadar in Balochistan in south-western Pakistan. The peace proposal put forward by Chinese envoy Luo Zhaohui includes starting negotiations on a “China-India Treaty of Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation” and emphasizing on an early solution to the border dispute between the two countries.
Luo said that China is not opposed to any country’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), believing that a standard for admission should be agreed upon first.
However, it is unlikely that Beijing will change its earlier position on criteria-based membership at the next NSG plenary mid-June in Switzerland.
Beijing has recently conveyed message to New Delhi that the title and Article 6 of its 1963 agreement with Islamabad revealed that China not only recognized Kashmir as an issue of territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, but also remained open to renegotiate the agreement after India and Pakistan settled to dispute.
Delhi however, made it clear to Beijing that it regarded the 1963 China-Pakistan boundary agreement as “illegal and invalid”. Whereas, Beijing conveyed to Delhi that its 54-year old agreement with Islamabad recognized Pakistan’s claim on the disputed territory only as an interim measure, pending the settlement of its dispute with India. Beijing also claimed that the contents of the Sino-Pak boundary pact adequately accommodated the concerns of India.
The pact Beijing signed with Islamabad in 1963 was titled “Agreement between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of Pakistan on the boundary between China’s Xinjiang and the contiguous areas, the defence of which is under the actual control of Pakistan”.
Article 6 provides that when India and Pakistan would settle the Kashmir dispute, “the sovereign authority concerned would reopen negotiations with the government of the People’s Republic of China, on the boundary as mentioned in Article 2 of the present agreement, so as to sign a formal Boundary Treaty to replace the present agreement.”
Islamabad had illegally ceded 5180 square kms of India’s territory to China through the pact. Beijing has already promised to invest Rs 62 billion in the CPEC.
“ China is willing to mediate to resolve Indo-Pak differences if both sides are willing to accept it. When the Mumbai terrorist attack took place on November 26, 2008; I was the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, and I had done a lot of mediation at that time,” Luo said.