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China defends CPEC, says project has not changed its stance on Kashmir dispute

“China has stated its principled position on Kashmir many times. The CPEC is an economic initiative that targets no third country. It is not about territorial disputes and does not affect our principled position on the issue of Kashmir,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Photo taken on May 28, 2018 shows the Sharqpur-Rajana Section of Lahore-Abdul Hakeem Motorway in eastern Pakistans Rajana. (Xinhua/Ahmad Kamal)

New Delhi: China on Monday (May 24) again defended its controversial China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project against India’s protest over the project’s passing through the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) which India claims as a part of its territory. China said that the project was an economic initiative and not a political one.

“China has stated its principled position on Kashmir many times. The CPEC is an economic initiative that targets no third country. It is not about territorial disputes and does not affect our principled position on the issue of Kashmir,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

“We are also extending the CPEC to regional countries, including Afghanistan. This will not only boost faster economic development in Pakistan, but also regional connectivity,” added Lijian.

India has protested against the CPEC ever since the beginning of the project.

Pakistan and China have defended the project in recent days as they have come under fire for failing to meet the economic goals that were originally envisioned in the partnership.

CPEC will connect China’s Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s port city of Gwadar with a road. Along the road several industries will be developed with a special Economic Zone being made in Gwadar.

The project is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which aims to connect more than 70 countries ranging from Central Asia to all the way to Eastern Europe and Africa.

Lijian also said that China was in talks with Afghanistan to extend the CPEC project.

“The two sides are having consultations through diplomatic channels. We notice that Afghanistan imports and exports goods through Gwadar and Karachi ports. High-speed highways are also being extended to Afghanistan,” he added.

Pakistani Prime Minister Iman Khan in a high level meeting said that CPEC will bring economic progress not only to Pakistan but the entire region.

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With inputs from PTI

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