India Calls CPEC Illegal
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
India has enjoyed substantial regional influence across South Asia due to its size, comparative economic might, and historical and cultural relevance to the region. But over the past decade, China has become a significant economic partner to countries throughout the region, forging particularly strong ties with smaller states through trade, diplomacy, aid, and investment.
China has adopted a policy aimed at enhancing the development options of its neighbours as well as promoting new lines of communication or corridors with its southwestern periphery. Much of this impetus has been provided by the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) – a grand connectivity plan that envisions a network of states economically linked to China through a variety of commercial-financial relationships and industrial projects
Launched in 2015, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a series of roads, railways, pipelines, hydropower plants and other development projects, being built from between China and Pakistan. The $46 billion CPEC will connect China’s largest province Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan. The economic corridor between China-Pakistan is a flagship program of One Belt One Road. This extends beyond mere economic activity, however, and includes establishing a whole host of rules, from cultural exchange to the movement of people.
What exactly is OBOR?
Focuses on: Improving connectivity and cooperation as well as enhance land as well as maritime routes
- Backed by extensive China led funding, the infrastructure runs through the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, connecting the vibrant East Asia economic circle at one end and developed European economic circle at the other.
- The policy is significant for China since it aims to boost domestic growth in the country. Experts have noted that OBOR is also a part of China’s strategy for economic diplomacy.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor: India’s Achilles’ heel
- Threat to India’s Sovereignty: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The corridor threatens territorial integrity of nation. In fact, when the Chinese entered into an agreement with Pakistan in 1963 to build the Karakoram Highway in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) region, India had vociferously objected to it on the very question of sovereignty.
- The region through which the highway was to pass belonged to India and has been under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. The Chinese side, thus, has full knowledge of India’s concerns about the region.
- The CPEC today passes through the same region of PoK called Gilgit Baltistan (GB). India has time and again raised its concerns over Chinese activity in the region, the latest being in 2011 when information came out about the presence of thousands of Chinese troops in the region.
- Expansion of Military: Ever since the construction of the corridor is started, the Chinese military presence in the area is also embarked. This military personnel would be deployed around the projects built by Chinese companies. China can permanently position troops on Pakistan soil not too far from the Indian.
- Control of Maritime trade: CPEC gives China a foothold in the western Indian Ocean with the Gwadar port, located near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, where Chinese warships and a submarine have surfaced. Access here allows China greater potential to control maritime trade in that part of the world – a vulnerable point for India, which sources more than 60 percent of its oil supplies from the Middle East.
- Curtail India’s influence in neighbourhood: Nepal which was historically close to India is now seeking help from China to use its ports for transport of goods. The proposed rail corridor between Kathmandu and Tibet is example of growing influence of China in Nepal.
- Threats of insurgency in North East: The illegal use of money and providing external help in forms of arms can cause unrest in North East.
- China’s Trade Policy: China has already been using countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to dump their products in India, and there is a huge bilateral trade deficit between China and India. India is not keen on this, especially because of a lack of structures in terms of customs and other clearances on border areas. While China wants to use third country routes to supply its products to India, it does not allow Indian services or certain other products access to its own market.
- Illegal migrants: Social harmony will be disrupted as illegal migrants, disgruntled with Chinese surveillance and intrusive governance might flee to bordering Indian territory (e.g.: Tibetans, Uighurs etc.). These migrants might also upset the local resource balance, given that even Indian border areas are relatively underdeveloped.
- Aggressive expansion: This is evident from:
- Karakoram highway
- Resettlement of Chinese citizens in Tibet with the intention to change the regional ethnic mix
- Surveillance of Uighurs in Xinjiang
- Industrial development with policy reform to promote industrialization in its interior areas.
India need to be cautious with growing influence of China and at same time strive and improve its infrastructure in North East and its relations with neighbouring countries.
The connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms. They must follow principles of openness, transparency and financial responsibility and must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of other nations. China should remember this.
Connecting the Dots:
- The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is China’s Marshall plan. Do you agree? Substantiate.
- How is China posing challenges in India’s engagement with the neighbours? What measures have been taken to instil confidence amongst India’s immediate neighbours?