India Blasts China and Pakistan for Inviting Other Countries to Participate on Economic Corridor Projects

By Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
July 26, 2022 Updated: July 26, 2022

On July 26, Indian officials denounced a move by Pakistan and China to involve other nations in the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, which India does not recognize as legitimate, claiming the territory belongs to India and has been illegally occupied by Pakistan.

India’s external affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that any participation from third parties in the CPEC would “directly infringe on India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Bagchi said the Indian government “firmly and consistently opposes projects in the so-called CPEC,” which passes through the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Such activities are inherently illegal, illegitimate and unacceptable, and will be treated accordingly by India,” he said in a written statement.

Bagchi’s remarks came after Pakistan and China announced on July 22 that they would invite any third country to join the multibillion-dollar infrastructure CPEC projects for “mutually beneficial cooperation.”

In written statement, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said that the CPEC was “a flagship of the Belt and Road Initiative” and had broken new ground to strengthen international and regional connectivity, especially with regard to its expansion into Afghanistan.

China’s Debt Trap

The CPEC is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched by Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2013. Other countries, including the United States, have criticized the BRI infrastructure program as a “debt trap” for smaller nations.

China has invested over $62 billion in infrastructure under the CPEC, including the construction of a deep-water port in Gwadar that triggered massive protests in November 2021.

The U.S.-based think tank Foreign Policy Research Institute stated in its July report that “only a handful” of Pakistan’s BRI-funded transportation infrastructure projects were ever entirely finished.

“Hence, even though Pakistan’s trade deficit with China ballooned over 164 percent between 2013 and 2021, it is difficult to attribute that deterioration to the BRI,” said Felix K. Chang, a Foreign Policy Research Institute researcher.

Pakistan entered a $6 billion funding program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July 2019 following a balance payment crisis. But the funding was stalled due to issues over the required reforms.

Islamabad is negotiating with the IMF to revive the bailout package fund. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in May that Pakistan’s foreign debt has reached a level that even the future generations would not be able to pay off.

“Imran Khan’s government took such hefty amount of loans that our generations might not be able to pay them,” Sharif said in a public address, referring to his predecessor.

Massive protests erupted in November 2021 against the CPEC as locals opposed the government granting licenses for Chinese trawlers to fish near Gwadar.

They also protested against the severe shortage of drinking water and electricity, restrictions on movement, and limited sea access resulting from the high level of security for CPEC that runs through the province.

The protests eased after the government agreed to most of the protesters’ demands in December.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.