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Third-Party Participation in CPEC Is Inherently Illegal: India

Context

India has slammed China and Pakistan for seeking third-country participation in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Relevance

India and its neighbourhood- relations. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Mains Question

Discuss India’s concerns about the framework for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). How should India deal with the challenges posed by this alliance? (150 Words)


China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

  • During a visit to Islamabad in April 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif unveiled the $46 billion CPEC.
  • CPEC quickly grew to $62 billion in pledges—one-fifth of Pakistan’s GDP—to cover dozens of high-profile projects.
  • The corridor connects Xinjiang and Gwadar, as well as passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where China is investing in a number of projects.
  • The stated goal of CPEC, which is often described as a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is to:
    • transform Pakistan’s economy by modernising its road, rail, air, and energy transportation systems;
    • connect the deep-sea Pakistani ports of Gwadar and Karachi to China’s Xinjiang province and beyond via overland routes.

Various Phases of CPEC

  • First Phase: Various agreements such as energy, infrastructure, port development, and railway line construction have been signed o i.e., the first phase is focused on infrastructure creation.
  • Second Phase: An industrial cooperation agreement was signed in February 2022.
    • The second phase is primarily concerned with the development and industrialization of Special Economic Zones.

CPEC and India

  • CPEC: A Threat to India’s Sovereignty
    • It runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s Gilgit-Baltistan region. Through the Khunjerab Pass, the corridor enters Gilgit-Baltistan.
    • This area is claimed by India and is part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
    • India believes that the CPEC violates its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • CPEC and India’s Security Threat
    • The Chinese military presence in the area has increased since the corridor’s construction began.
    • In 2017, Chinese troops marched in the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad, marking the first time the Chinese military marched in a parade outside of China.
    • In addition to the naval vessels deployed in Pakistan, China has delivered eight submarines to the country.
    • Following Djibouti, China intends to build its second naval base in Gwadar port in 2017.

Background:

  • In July 2022, the CPEC Joint Working Group (JWG) on International Cooperation and Coordination (JWG-ICC) held its third virtual meeting.
  • During the meeting, both China and Pakistan expressed an interest in inviting other countries to invest in the project.
  • Although it has not been officially revealed who may be investing in the project, analysts believe Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Germany may join.
  • Shortly after taking power in Afghanistan last year, the Taliban expressed a desire to participate in the infrastructure project.
  • New Delhi has opposed Beijing and Islamabad’s bid to include third countries in CPEC.

India’s reaction

  • India objected to the move, claiming that it passes through illegally occupied Indian territory and that such a move would be illegal and unacceptable.
  • India has repeatedly protested to China about the CPEC, which is being built through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK).
  • According to India, connectivity initiatives must be based on universally accepted and other recognised international norms, transparency and equality, rule of law, and must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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October 2022
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