India Today
China Beijing Kashmir India Pakistan CPEC Image Credit: India Today
China Beijing Kashmir India Pakistan CPEC Image Credit: India Today

Chinese Chequers in Kashmir

When China’s envoy in Delhi, Luo Zhaohui, suggested in a speech on May 5 that Beijing could “rename” the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)— which runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)—to acknowledge India’s sovereignty concerns, it appeared Luo’s government, long gone tone-deaf to India’s concerns about its vast projects in disputed land, was finally beginning to listen.

Ananth Krishnan in Beijing

CPEC’s very name, Delhi had argued, endorsed Pakistani claims to that territory, and went against China’s avowed commitments on Kashmir. Luo’s statement was therefore significant, with the envoy adding that Beijing “supported a settlement through bilateral negotiation”—thereby rebuffing Pakistan’s desire to internationalise the dispute—which, the envoy added, “Indian friends... have chosen to forget”.

With China hosting the first Belt and Road forum on May 14, Luo’s comments were likely aimed at India’s decision to not send a high-level representative. His offer may not have entirely addressed India’s concerns—delinking CPEC from the Belt and Road initiative would perhaps have been a more realistic proposal, given that China isn’t going to stop its actual projects—but it was certainly welcomed by officials in Delhi.

If the Chinese ambassador was offering an olive branch, it appeared his bosses in Beijing, alas, weren’t on the same page. Alarmed by his offer, Pakistan’s ministry of planning and development, which is implementing the $50 billion corridor, sought a clarification from the Chinese embassy in Islamabad on May 8. By the end of the day, Luo’s remark on renaming the corridor had vanished from the transcript of his speech on the Chinese embassy’s website.

This small incident, Indian officials say, underlines how, despite China&rsq


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