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ANOTHER CHINA-INDIA STANDOFF IN MAKING


19 Sep 2017/Tuesday                          China’s recent standoff with India in the Himalayas ended without a shot being fired, but the confrontation has deepened mistrust between the world’s two Asian giants. Ending a more than two-month-long military standoff, the two sides announced that they had negotiated an expeditious “disengagement” of their troops and they pledged to open dialogue over their territorial disputes.

However China has once again shown its total disregard to settled issue of territorial disputes by giving it a different colour. China has recently quickened Works on Pakistani Projects in Areas Claimed by India. It is racing to finish one of the biggest hydro-power projects in Pakistan ahead of schedule, yet its location in the long-contested region of PoK is likely to draw ire from India.

Construction on the 720 megawatt Karot power station being built on Jhelum river began in December 2016 and looks set to finish nine months ahead of its December 2021 completion date, a first for a Pakistan hydro-project said Qin Guobin, chief executive officer of the state-owned China conglomerate “Three Gorges”.

China has stepped in to meet some of those shortages, financing projects worth more than $50 billion in an economic corridor that runs through Pakistan. The route is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ‘Belt-And-Road’ plan to connect Asia with Europe and Africa with a web of ports, railways and highways links for trade.

India’s Position

India’s foreign ministry said its views on “Pakistan’s illegal occupation” of Kashmir is “a matter of record.”

“We have objected, they have proceeded nevertheless,” said G. Parthasarathy, a former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan. “This has been going on since the 1960s and 1970s, when they built the Karakoram highway” that links Pakistan with China through the disputed territory, he said.

Chinese Position

China has a neutral stance on the Kashmir dispute, said Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies. “The Belt and Road initiative cannot be delayed or sidetracked by the territorial disputes.”

India’s concern doesn’t bother Chinese investors like Qin. “It’s a political issue and not the concern of a private investor,” he said.

More broadly, New Delhi is wary of Chinese investments in neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka, while Beijing is irked by India’s lack of support for its infrastructure and trade initiative.

Pakistan’s Stakes

The stakes are high for Pakistan, with the planned power generation projects potentially adding $13 billion to its economy in the next seven years, according to an International Monetary Fund report published in July. Pakistan’s hydro-power generation potential is an estimated 40,000 megawatts against the installed capacity of only 7,116 megawatts in the 2015-16 fiscal year, according to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s latest report. Pakistan considers the hydro power site a national security priority. It has already raised a force of more than 15000 combatants to look after the security of CPEC projects.

The heightened activities by China in ongoing developments in the disputed region of Pakistan are surely going to lead to more bitterness in India – China bilateral relations and may lead to standoff of another kind.

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