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Friday, May 17, 2024

In outgoing interview, Chinese envoy talks India, CPEC, and the West

The Chinese ambassador says Indian ambitions in the region are hampering the progress of economic corridors, advises India not to break WTO rules when banning Chinese apps.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Ying last week said that Delhi had made an ‘unwise’ decision to ban Chinese applications in the Hindu-majority country as a response to increased border tensions with Beijing. The Chinese envoy made the remarks during an interview with renowned journalist Moeed Pirzada that was aired by 92 News on Thursday.

“I think it [banning Chinese applications] is a very unwise decision taken by India. This is a global market. It is an inter-dependent market as far as trade, technology, and international transactions are concerned. These decisions should be decided by the markets, and unilateral actions in this regard will not help,” he said.

In June this year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had banned tens of Chinese applications in India, including the wildly popular social media platform TikTok, after a skirmish between Chinese and Indian troops in the disputed border region of Ladakh. At least 20 Indian troops were killed in the fighting, according to several media reports.

‘India decision to ban Chinese apps against WTO rules’

In the wide-ranging interview, Ambassador Yao spoke at length about the Beijing-Delhi relationship, the progress of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and the rise of Chinese power across the globe. Since the flare-up in Ladakh in June, tensions between Delhi and Beijing have increased, with another border clash reported in the area earlier this month.

Addressing a news conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said last week that China has never recognized so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’, which is China’s south Tibet region, as part of India, daily Global Times reported. Arunachal Pradesh, with a population of nearly 1.8 million, divides China and India.

Responding to a question about the ban on Chinese apps because of border tensions, Ambassador Yao said that the ban on Chinese apps in India was against the rules of the World Trade Organization. “It is against the international trade regime. Indian businesses and economy will be affected by this decision,” he noted.

In response to another question about the Chinese stance on Arunachal Pradesh, the Chinese envoy stressed that China had never recognized the area as part of India since the international border between China and India had never been demarked. “We have three sectors of the border dispute [with India], eastern, middle, and western,” he clarified.

“The Ladakh region falls under the western dispute. There are other disputers too, in the southern terrain. In the 1980s, India unilaterally announced that a border area was part of a state of India. China made it clear it did not recognize that state. Last August, they also announced that some part of Ladakh had become part of Union Territories,” he noted.

In August last year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had abolished the special status of the disputed region of Kashmir in the Constitution of India, paving the way for mass Hindu migration to the Muslim-majority region. China controlled part of the region claimed by India in the Kashmir region, some of that area fell in the Ladakh territory.

“The border dispute between India and China has a long historical background. China hopes that India can respect this kind of history and adopt a negotiated solution to find a way out of this dispute,” the Chinese envoy maintained, clearly not impressed by the unilateral decisions Delhi had taken with regards to the dispute.

‘Pleased with progress of CPEC’

Ambassador Yao also talked about the progress of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor during his interview. “I am very pleased with Pakistan’s progress in the CPEC initiative in the last three years. I have observed and witnessed that Pakistan in the last three years has made tremendous efforts in improving various economic capabilities such as exports.”

When asked about the development of other corridors within the Belt and Road Initiative, the Ambassador said that the development of those depended on the other countries involved in the projects, noting that CPEC was the only bilateral project of the BRI, the others being multilateral projects spread throughout Asia and Europe.

Part of the BRI, the BCMEC, or the Bangladesh China Myanmar Economic Corridor, was proposed by China in 2013. The deterioration of the relations between China and India may have slowed the progress of the corridor. The tensions in Ladakh have also significantly reduced the warmth in the relations between the two nations.

Read more: Pentagon says China pursuing CPEC for strategic objectives, PLA superior to US military

The Ambassador said that the other corridors of the BRI were in their initial stages. The envoy subtly also mentioned that only ‘some’ countries were hampering the Chinese initiatives for progress in the region. Ambassador Yao may have been alluding to the deteriorating relations with India which have slowed down the BCMEC.

“CPEC is the only bilateral corridor among the six that exist as part of BRI that has been developing better than expected. Initially, there were many areas of co-operation that had been agreed on, including Gwadar port, infrastructure, and power industry, and all of these have been successfully consolidated,” he underlined.

When asked about the shifting global narratives towards the Belt and Road Initiative, the Ambassador said that these changes had nothing to do with Pakistan. “China and Pakistan were to remain steadfast in their commitments to take forward the CPEC projects,” he affirmed, praising Pakistani efforts to speed up progress on the corridor.

‘West has misunderstanding about Chinese objectives’

Change of governments in powerful western countries, including Britain and the United States, has led to increased criticism of China from London and Washington over the past few years. Addressing this, the envoy said that the changing narrative in the West was due to misunderstandings that these countries had about the nature of Chinese progress.

“The West perceives the Chinese economic progress as a threat to their interests. This belief is far from the truth. China has long believed in peaceful and stable progression, sharing of technology and economic development. Even the ‘leading superpower’ has becoming less confident in its position and hence perceived China a threat,” he noted.

The Ambassador also lauded the efforts of the new CPEC Authority in making the operations of CPEC much smoother and providing a ‘one window stop’ to most problems related to the corridor. He said that he considered CPEC a state to state affair and was really inspired by the cross-political consensus on CPEC throughout Pakistan.

Read more: CPEC Authority Bill 2020: More powers transfer from parliamentarians to un-elected officials?

When asked about the reports of the postponement of President Xi’s visit to Pakistan, he said that the idea was unfair since the visit was an ongoing process and no fixed date for it had been decided. He said that the visit was an important agenda in China as well as Pakistan, and would materialize as soon as it was possible.

He also said that as far as the issue of Pakistani students returning to Chinese universities was concerned, the universities were not open to anyone as of yet. “However, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Zulfi Bukhari has been in close contact with the Communist Party in China over the issue and it will be resolved soon.”

GVS News Desk