ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India’s Opposition to China–Pakistan Economic Corridor Is Flawed

China is opening up its land borders in Xinjiang to interact more freely with Central Asia and Europe. China and Pakistan are jointly building the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India views this as a violation of its sovereignty. Geopolitics rather than geoeconomics predominates India’s thinking on possibilities offered by the revival of the old Silk Road by the Chinese.

The 3,000 km-long China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) consis­ting of highways, railways, and pipelines is the latest irritant in the India–China relationship. The corridor connects China’s landlocked western province of Xinjiang to Gwadar port in south Pakistan. India feels that the corridor infringes on its sovereignty because it passes through Gilgit–Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Pakistan and China have invited India to be a part of the CPEC, but India has declined the offer. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, addressing the second Raisina Dialogue, an international conference held in New Delhi, in mid-January 2017, said that China remained oblivious to the impact that the CPEC project would have on India’s sovereignty. India is also concerned over the China–Pakistan naval cooperation in Gwadar port, the entry point to the CPEC. In January 2017, China handed over two ships to the Pakistan Navy for the security of Gwadar port.

India’s outright opposition to the CPEC and its indifference towards the Chinese One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative are difficult to comprehend. Connectivity with Central Asia and Europe through its northern frontiers would be economically more beneficial for India than continued reliance on the shipping lanes. The problem is that the Indian strategic psyche is fixated on seeing control of oceans as the only means to acquire greatness. It is for this reason that it demands freedom of navigation on the oceans, but opposes smooth trade flows across soft borders on land. If trade has the right to move freely on sea lanes of communication (SLOCs), then land-based trade should also be allowed to move with relative ease. Border disputes should not be allowed to interfere with land lanes of communication (LLOCs). In fact, India should welcome the revival of the old Silk Road as it gives India more choices and reduces its dependence on trade routes controlled by the United States (US).

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Updated On : 1st Feb, 2017
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