Think tank explains why India loathes CPEC

Published: February 3, 2017
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets Chinese President Xi Jinping. PHOTO: REUTERS

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets Chinese President Xi Jinping. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: India’s opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) stems from its fear of internationalisation of the Kashmir dispute and the growing influence of China in the Indian Ocean, says a new report by one of the most influential global think tanks.

“There is considerable concern within India that China, which has been neutral on Kashmir since 1963, can no longer be so now that its economic and security interests in these territories are growing in stake,” says a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) — a Sweden-based think tank.

Lt Gen Aamir invites India to join CPEC

The report — titled “Silk Road Economic Belt – considering security implications and the EU-China cooperation prospects” — argues that India does not want a mediating role for China in these disputes.

It is the first report by any global think tank that has discussed in detail the Indian concerns on CPEC. The report has also shed light on implications of the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative on security dynamics and its compatibility with the EU interests.

The Sipri report says CPEC has raised political temperatures between India and Pakistan. “India strictly opposes CPEC, and while the Economic Belt is not a harbinger of a new conflict, it has so far intensified historic competition over influence in South Asia,” note authors of the report.

The report argues that there is a factual and conceptual objection to CPEC in India. The factual objection is that India does not want to internationalise the Kashmir dispute it has with Pakistan. Chinese activity in the disputed areas automatically makes it a stakeholder in these disputes.

At the conceptual level, CPEC allows China to gain a toehold in the Indian Ocean through direct access to the Arabian Sea. There remain concerns that this might develop a military dimension at some stage, according to the report.

Modi spoke India’s mind over CPEC

Since territorial compromise from either India or Pakistan is a political suicide for any of the ruling parties, it remains to be seen whether CPEC will contribute to a resolution of this dispute or further fan the flames. There is also a concern in India that China will use Gwadar port to observe Indian naval activity and possibly even exploit it for an expansion of China’s own naval presence.

There is also concern in India that while CPEC in the short and medium term could be an opportunity to generate jobs and growth in Pakistan, over the longer term its strategic consequences could reshape the regional balance of power in favour of China and limit India’s geopolitical reach.

The assertiveness and swiftness of Chinese actions in the South China Sea have implanted a preoccupation among China’s critics in India that if China gains a foothold in the Arabian Sea and, as an extension, in the Indian Ocean through Gwadar, it might make national interest claims in India’s maritime sphere too. “After all, if Gwadar grows to be the immense port China envisions it to become, China will need to take on a bigger direct or indirect security role,” it says.

The Sipri report noted that unlike in India, CPEC has not raised concerns in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is open to all regional initiatives that could reactivate its ailing formal economy, whether that is by way of CPEC or India-led efforts to connect with the Afghan economy through the Chabahar Port in Iran. Iran has not opposed CPEC and has expressed strong interest in the Belt and Road Initiative.

However, the report argues that Afghanistan is unlikely to benefit from CPEC unless Kabul-Islamabad relations improve. For this to happen, Pakistan’s security concerns with regard to Afghanistan need to be assuaged. The authors note that CPEC has the potential to exacerbate three fault lines in South Asian security.

Four reasons why CPEC will not be another East India Company

The first is between China and India themselves. The second is between China-Pakistan on the one side and India on the other. The third is between China and India and its partners – the US, Japan and, to a lesser degree, Vietnam. The region of Balochistan is being geopolitically instrumentalised by these various players, they added.

It says that this is an evidence that CPEC has contributed to political and security bloc formation, but the bloc rivalry between the US-India and China-Pakistan exists regardless of CPEC. CPEC has merely strengthened the strategic Chinese-Pakistani alliance.

China’s reliance on CPEC means that it needs a stable and amicable Pakistan, underlines the report. “The Silk Road Economic Belt initiative may become one of the cornerstones of Asian economic growth and integration, and eventually of closer political and security cooperation among states, but the pathway to this scenario is long and fraught with obstacles,” it says.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2017.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Lumdheeng
    Feb 3, 2017 - 9:52AM

    China already occupies a part of J&K,which is now called “Aksai Chin”.Recommend

  • zoro
    Feb 3, 2017 - 9:52AM

    CPEC will be a Barron land in the years to come … or otherwise Baluchis will take over the belt and will ask for the fees for the same …. which will make the transport cost prohibitive …
    Watch this space …Recommend

  • Endian
    Feb 3, 2017 - 9:58AM

    @Sardar Singh

    Thankyou for comparing Apple’s arrival with CPEC. You are truly an intellectual…!Recommend

  • salman
    Feb 3, 2017 - 10:08AM

    Hahaha no wonder India hates CPEC, it is even not something under the tables. Pakistan has played master stroke by involving China into South Asian matters through CPEC as not only it will help Pakistan struggling economy but also make Pakistan’s strategic location even more effective. Recommend

  • PrakashG
    Feb 3, 2017 - 10:38AM

    With so much cultural differences between Pakistan and China, and Pakistan’s inherent tendency to play double-games, I can envisage no scenario that doesn’t end in Chinese tanks rolling into Pakistan through the self-same CPEC.Recommend

  • Bharatiya Australian
    Feb 3, 2017 - 10:39AM

    Think tank has to churn out more conspiracy theories to justify their report.
    Fact is India is the legal owner for the portion occupied by Pakistan and also the portion Pakistan donated to China in Aksai chin. CPEC goes illegally through India’s land and no sovereign country will alliw this. Pakistan is lucky its neighbour is India, had it been some other country, that country would have waged a war for illegally occupying its land. Recommend

  • Haris
    Feb 3, 2017 - 10:40AM

    @zoro you wishRecommend

  • Truth
    Feb 3, 2017 - 10:47AM

    Not a single bullet fired between China and India in last 30 years. So it is good for India if China takes control of Pakistan in the name of CPEC. India’s only worried is it is passing through POK. By the way how many Chinese containers passed through Pakistan after inaugural ceremony of CPEC that is on 1st November 2016. Recommend

  • Truth
    Feb 3, 2017 - 10:53AM

    Not a single bullet fired between China and India in last 30 years. So it is good for India if China takes control of Pakistan in the name of CPEC. India’s only worry is it is passing through POK. By the way how many Chinese containers passed through Pakistan after inaugural ceremony of CPEC ( 1st November 2016). Recommend

  • munir bashir
    Feb 3, 2017 - 11:26AM

    It is in the interst of all contest in the Indian sub continent to join CEPC. Imagine we have train Servicr from Far east to Europe through India Pakistan Iran Turkey. Pipelines from Iran to India. Every country will benefit. Goods will move faster and cheaper.Trade will increase that will bring more jobs and prosperity. Recommend

  • rich
    Feb 3, 2017 - 11:37AM

    mirza kashaf

    well u cant? but u can build roads by a third country and link third country through disputed territory?

    and give disputed terrotory as gift to china?

    wow speak of double standardRecommend

  • vinsin
    Feb 3, 2017 - 12:29PM

    It was Nehru who asked China to get involved in Kashmir dispute. When China proposed a solution of making ceasefire line as International Border, Nehru became angry and saying that Kashmir Valley should be part of Pakistan and launched Forward policy to attack China for not supporting Kashmiri Valley people.

    Again It was Nehru idea that China and Pakistan should be friend and supported Korakoram highway.

    India never had any geopolitical reach, whatever she had was during British Raj and lost everything within span of 3 yrs of Independence.Recommend

  • Jawad
    Feb 3, 2017 - 12:38PM

    @rich…..the only disputed territory is IOK…China and India went to war in 62 and china captured 98,000 indian soldiers and captured Aksai chin in 1 day. Are you saying that pakistan should have gone to war with china and lose many lives, friendship for a small land. Recommend

  • Dino
    Feb 3, 2017 - 2:14PM

    Lol…you say India is scared coz Kashmir will be highlighted internationally……
    Well let me tell you that Kashmir issue has been highlighted from past seventy years …even in Pakistan’s good times. nothing was done on Kashmir……Recommend

  • Waqas Butt
    Feb 3, 2017 - 2:48PM

    @Bharatiya Australian:
    Well if you ask us kashmiris then we are quite clear, it is India who occupies kashmir and we are also happy Pakistan and China relations and CPEC are making you tear your hair out.
    Keep going Pakistan….we love u and are with u….Recommend

  • Vectra
    Feb 3, 2017 - 3:18PM

    Ok all those analysis are fine but tell one if many in Pakistan and China and some others really thinks that if CPEC (basically formed of all mere roads and highways with some power plants) can give Pakistan and China as per their calculations a tool to balance a subcontinental size India then i wonder what a huge natural geography of triangular peninsula of India can do if need arises??Recommend

  • Khan
    Feb 3, 2017 - 6:20PM

    Excellent Stategic Depth by PAKISTAN…….PAKISTAN ZINDABAD.Recommend

  • Giri
    Feb 3, 2017 - 8:14PM

    @Waqas Butt: Kashmir was part of India for last 500 years and will remain part of India for next 5000 years. Indians will fight to death to retain their land. You get that?Recommend

  • Huzur
    Feb 3, 2017 - 9:18PM

    China’s own naval presence

    the silk road or one belt one road or whatever name you may wish to call it .let there be no illusions.It is for a Chinese naval base open to the Indian ocean and Chinese fores into this area.How much china can sustain internal Baloch Resistance remains to be seen.After all it is basically an export dependent economy and it cannot rub nations along the route.Recommend

  • Huzur
    Feb 3, 2017 - 9:23PM

    @Waqas Butt:
    India should do to kashmir what china has done to Tibet and Xingjian.After all as a good friend of China Pakistan should have no objection to this.Recommend

  • Pnpuri
    Feb 3, 2017 - 10:00PM

    Probably think tank does not know Karkoram highway is built and passing through this very disputed area for last 40 years or more. India has not disturbed status quo in kashmir since 1971 (46 years). One should keep in mind that CPEC land route is just 25% of OBOR. IT WILL not be used for china trade with central asia Russia or further to Europe as china is sharing border with central Asian countries and Russia and has well connected road and Railway system. But utility of CPEC will be reduced further unless china trades with India through CPEC route.Recommend

  • Rah I nijat
    Feb 3, 2017 - 10:51PM

    India and its insecurities- who cares!Recommend

  • Nasir
    Feb 4, 2017 - 1:22PM

    Comments from across the border proves one thing………India has become so obsessed with Pakistan that it has forgot to understand its status on international arena. It’s entire policy is centred around Pakistan…thanks to Mr Modi Recommend

  • Rehan Khan
    Feb 5, 2017 - 9:24AM

    CPEC is building all season roads and bringing electricity to northern areas which will bring education to their children and basic necessities of life. That is what matters. Its about prosperity overcoming poverty and lets not politicize it please. Recommend

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