China on Monday again defended its controversial USD 60 billion CPEC project with Pakistan, disregarding India’s protests as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, saying it is an economic initiative and has not affected its principled stand on the Kashmir issue.
Leaders of China and Pakistan have praised the progress of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in recent days as the two close allies celebrated the establishment of 70 years of their diplomatic relations.
India has protested to China over the CPEC, the flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as it traverses through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The massive infrastructure project connects China’s Xinjiang province with Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. China has been defending the CPEC, saying it is an economic project not aimed at any third country.
Answering questions on the CPEC at a media briefing on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the CPEC as one of the pioneering projects under the BRI has made important and major progress in infrastructure, energy, ports and industrial parks. He said the Belt and Road Initiative is an open international economic cooperation initiative with objectives of enhancing regional connectivity and achieving common development.
“We are also extending the CPEC to regional countries, including Afghanistan. This will not only boost faster economic development in Pakistan, but also regional connectivity,” he said.