Beijing: China is opposed to India’s oil exploration in the South China Sea because it is a disputed area, but regards its ambitious $46 billion economic corridor through Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir a “livelihood project” with issues left over from history.
Both India and China advocate freedom of the navigation in the South China Sea and there are no differences over it, according to HuangXilian, deputy director general of the Asian affairs of the foreign ministry.
China’s Gilgit-Baltistan projects represent a shift toward greater economic cooperation between Pakistan and China amid common disputes with neighboring India. (Above) And Indian and Chinese soldier stand guard at the historic Nathu La pass. China Daily/Wang Lie
India will react if a Chinese company goes to a disputed area with a South Asian neighbour, Huang said, adding that likewise China objects to India’s ONGC participation in oil exploration in the wells in South China Sea (SCS) claimed by Vietnam, he told an Indian media delegation in Beijing.
ONGC has been awarded oil exploration contracts by Vietnam and China in the past voiced objections to Indian state-owned firm’s participation in Vietnam’s oil exploration projects if they fall into disputed areas. India defended the projects saying that they are purely commercial projects and need not be politicised.
China claims sovereignty over almost all of South China Sea which is objected by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Asked why the same principle cannot be applied to Chinese investments in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir specially the Corridor which is also a commercial project, Huang said the issues relating to the region are a left over from history.
“We know the concern of the Indian side and those projects are not political projects. They are all for livelihood of people. There is no commercial action by China in that part of the region,” he said.
“There is this kind of action for many years. We do not side with the any party on the issue of the territory. We have been advocating that the disputes should be solved through concerned parties through peaceful means. The kind of commercial activities do not affect the position of China on the claimants of the territory,” he said. “I am not talking which one is good and which one is bad. I tried to explain our position on this. We know your concern. We tried to communicate to your side our position,” he said.
India this week said it has conveyed its objections to China over CPEC as it goes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. “We lodged protest calling the Chinese ambassador. We lodged protest through our Ambassador there (Beijing). And when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had gone there (to China), he talked about it very firmly. He raised it very strongly that it is not acceptable to us what you are talking about China-Pakistan economic corridor going to Gilgit-Baltistan region,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had said in New Delhi. PTI