China on Friday said it has an “open attitude” to India joining the $46 billion economic corridor but it wants to know New Delhi’s response to a top Pakistani army general’s offer to participate in the project.
“I wonder what is India’s take on this whether this is a good sign from Pakistan,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said when asked about Pakistan Southern Command Commander Lt Gen Amir Riaz’s remarks that India should join the CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits.
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“On China’s part, the CPEC is a cooperation framework and we hope this programme can not only serve the interest of Pakistan but also Asia and the region as a whole,” Hua said. She said CPEC is an important part of China’s One-Belt and One-Road (OBOR) also known as new Silk Road project.
“It is an open proposal and we are willing to work with Pakistan to discuss the participation of any third country under principle of wider consultation and joint contribution,” she said.
Asked whether Pakistan has discussed India’s participation with China, Hua said “as (whether) China has negotiated with Pakistan on this, I have nothing to offer”.
“I can tell you that this programme is very important part of OBOR initiative and China holds an open attitude for such cooperation. We have seen reports about other countries who are willing to join the programme. We want to discuss this with wider consultants and consensus,” she said.
Hua’s comments came as the state-run Global Times carried articles suggesting that India should accept the “olive branch” offered by Lt Gen Riaz and join the project.
India’s concerns over CPEC being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is one of the three major issues bedevilled the relations between the two countries besides China blocking India’s admission to Nuclear Suppliers Group, (NSG) and UN ban on JeM leader Masood Azhar.
The two countries have been holding talks on these issues and Riaz’s comments were seen by officials here as an attempt to gauge India’s reaction.