INDIA’s first lady Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has made it clear that there is no possibility of New Delhi reviewing its stand on the multi – billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor being built through POK as relations between the two Asian nations are improving .As Prime Minister is in China , she said in Chennai on Saturday that New Delhi keeps its eyes open to the economic assistance being provided by Beijing to India’s neighbours and likely ramifications it could have for the country. Incidentally, China–Pakistan Economic Corridor is a collection of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction through Baluchistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh; China: Xinjiang.. Originally it was valued at $46 billion but has gone up to $62 billion.
“One thing I want to assure here…We do not view our relations with China through the prism of China-Pakistan relations,” she was addressing an event to mark the 10th anniversary of ‘Chennai Centre for China Studies’ .She made reference to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and made it public that India will not “entertain any thought” of reviewing its stand on it, as it concerned its sovereignty.”It is an issue of sovereignty, and we shall not entertain any thought (other than the stated Indian position) on that matter,” she said.The CPEC comprises a bunch of projects aimed at upgrading infrastructure in Pakistan and strengthening the economic ties between the two countries. The corridor will link Gwadar in south-western Pakistan to China’s Xinjiang province, and would pass through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, a territory India claims as its own.
“The kind of economic assistance being extended to many of our neighbours are all very clearly impacting the economies there, probably helping to bond a relationship with those countries.”As a result, even a strategic presence could be enabled. I see a linkage. This is something which I think all of us, you (Chennai Centre for China Studies) as a think tank, and we as a government, constantly remain alert to and understand its ramifications,” she said. The Pakistani military establishment was becoming increasingly dependent on the Chinese for arms and equipment.”The focus of the reforms is therefore evidently moving towards the People’s Liberation Army of China. Navy, PLA Air Force and PLA Rocket Forces as opposed to erstwhile emphasis on just the PLA,” she said.She agrees “fundamental reorientation” of the China-Pakistan relations was not likely, the minister said last month’s informal summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping was not just a “one-off” thing and that the two nations will “immensely benefit” from it.”No doubt, in the long term, the relationship between India and China will immensely benefit from this engagement,” she said.Sitharaman recalled her visit to China in April this year with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) foreign and defence ministers’ meet. India pleaded for a greater interactive forum. “And for that we should have definitely a hotline between India and China,” she said. The hotline would reduce the time consumed in reaching the empowered decision makers in times of confrontation at the ground level.”We have certainly underlined the fact that the border personnel meet, flag officer meet can all happen. But we need to have a better hotline that would easily help us in being ready for a timely action, Sitharam added .
Sitharaman said there was now a greater engagement between India and China and with India’s participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the relationship was becoming stronger. New Delhi had good bilateral cooperation with many members of the SCO. “There are many platforms available for engagement. There is a reinvigoration, there are many mechanisms that are existing whether it is border personnel meet, the dispute redressal meets, crisis management study groups meet, are all actively engaging every now and then,” she said added.