China Turns Away, Kashmir a Bilateral Affair

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NEW DELHI:  China today denied reports of its official media that said it has plans of mediating between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue. China said its position that Kashmir is a bilateral matter stands and the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has not affected it.

“China’s position on the issue of Kashmir is clear and consistent… It shall be properly addressed by India and Pakistan through consultation and negotiation,” news agency Press Trust of India reported Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang as saying. “The building of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor does not affect China’s position,” he added in a written response to a question.

Yesterday, Global Times, a publication of China’s ruling Communist Party, reported that Beijing had an interest in playing a bigger role in the region due to its investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. It was perhaps the first time that the Chinese official media floated Beijing’s interest in playing a mediatory role to resolve the Kashmir issue.

China, Mr Shuang said, will play a “constructive role” for the improvement of relations between India and Pakistan.

Coming two days after Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan’s comments offering to mediate between Pakistan and India, the Global Times article sparked concerns about a shift in China’s stand on Kashmir.

China, which has been at the centre of a regional power shift, “now needs to learn how to act as a stabilising force and conflict mediator in the region,” the article read. “Given the massive investment that China has made in countries along the One Belt, One Road, China now has a vested interest in helping resolve regional conflicts including the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan.”

It further added, “Mediating between India and Pakistan over Kashmir issue would perhaps be one of the toughest challenges facing China in dealing with regional affairs to safeguard its overseas interests”.

In past, China has played down reports of its troops’ presence in PoK, saying.

Related Story: China Announces Role as Mediator on Kashmir

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