China is opposed to India’s oil exploration in the South China Sea because it is a disputed area, but regards its ambitious USD 46 billion economic corridor through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir a “livelihood project” with issues left over from history.
Both India and China advocate freedom of the navigation in the South China Sea and there are no differences over it, according to Huang Xilian, Deputy Director General of the Asian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry.
India will react if a Chinese company goes to a disputed area with a South Asian neighbour, Huang said, adding that likewise China objects to India’s ONGC participation in oil exploration in the wells in South China Sea (SCS) claimed by Vietnam, he told an Indian media delegation here.
ONGC has been awarded oil exploration contracts by Vietnam and China in the past voiced objections to Indian state-owned firm’s participation in Vietnam’s oil exploration projects if they fall into disputed areas.
India defended the projects saying that they are purely commercial projects and need not be politicised.
China claims sovereignty over almost all of SCS which is objected by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Asked why the same principle cannot be applied to Chinese investments in PoK specially the Corridor which is also a commercial project, Huang said the issues relating to the region are a left over from history.
“We know the concern of the Indian side and those projects are not political projects. They are all for livelihood of people. There is no commercial action by China in that part of the region,” he said.
“There is this kind of action for many years. We do not side with the any party on the issue of the territory. We have been advocating that the disputes should be solved through concerned parties through peaceful means. The kind of commercial activities do not affect the position of China on the claimants of the territory,” he said.
“I am not talking which one is good and which one is bad. I tried to explain our position on this. We know your concern. We tried to communicate to your side our position,” he said.
India this week said it has conveyed its objections to China over CPEC as it goes through the PoK.
“We lodged protest calling the Chinese ambassador. We lodged protest through our Ambassador there Beijing). And when the Prime Minister had gone there (to China), he talked about it very firmly. He raised it very strongly that it is not acceptable to us what you are talking about China-Pakistan economic corridor going to PoK,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said in New Delhi.
About the Silk Road projects, Huang said China proposed to find common interests between India’s strategic initiatives in the region with that of the Silk Road projects to achieve common objective.
The silk road projects for which China has set up a USD 40 billion fund will strengthen connectivity to improve the infrastructure to provide better facilities for trade and enhance people to people exchanges, he said.
India has said it backs the projects wherever the synergies meet.
While New Delhi is taking part in the Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) Corridor, it is silent on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road over its likely impact in its backyard the Indian Ocean.