BEIJING: China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday offered to open talks with India to resolve differences on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), opening the door for removing a major irritant in Beijing-New Delhi ties, The Hindu newspaper reported.
China had earlier invited India to become part of the CPEC, when Luo Zhaohui, China’s ambassador to India, in November had expressed readiness to accommodate India’s concerns regarding CPEC. “We can change the name of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor). Create an alternative corridor through Jammu and Kashmir, Nathu La pass or Nepal to deal with India’s concerns,” he had said.
While expressing openness for talks with India, the Chinese foreign ministry appeared markedly restrained in commenting on Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s lavish praise for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of which CPEC is a part, during his address at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos.
Without any direct reference to Pakistan, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said: “We have noted relevant reports. As we said many times the BRI is proposed to strengthen global cooperation and use interconnectivity of infrastructure to allow each other’s development strategy and to give full play to our comparative advantages for win-win cooperation.”
“We are ready to work with Indian side through dialogue and communication for a better solution. This best serves the interests of the two countries,” Hua Chunying said, when asked to comment on remarks on CPEC by India’s ambassador to China, Gautam Bambawale.
“Regarding CPEC, China has repeatedly reiterated our position. As to the differences between China and India, China stands ready to communicate and talk with India to seek proper solutions so that these differences will not affect our general national interests,” Hua observed.
In an interview with Global Times last week, Bambawale had proposed a new phase of dialogue between India and China, which would cover all differences including CPEC. He had also highlighted that India and China were “partners” and not “rivals”.