- China's envoy to India made the offer on Friday at a closed-door address
- Speech text published on embassy website, offer was later removed
- China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir
The offer made by China's envoy to India Luo Zhaohui at a closed-door address on Friday, was made public on the Chinese Embassy's website. By late Monday evening, however, the Embassy removed this offer from his speech. It, however, still showed up in Google's cached pages.
Announced by President Xi in 2013, OBOR is a maze of connectivity projects connecting China with Europe, Asia and Africa that, according to one estimate, will require investments in excess of $ 900 billion that will link ports, gas pipelines and high speed railways.
A flagship project for the OBOR is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) comprising highway, rail and energy projects broadly along what was once called the Silk Route. It has angered New Delhi because it cuts through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir but China has brushed aside these concerns.
Mr Lou's offer to rename the corridor in a lecture at the United Services Institution on Friday was part of his four-point initiative that the two countries should take to deepen ties. The "initiative" came at a time relations between the two countries aren't in the best of shape. India has taken a dim view of Beijing renaming six locations in Arunachal Pradesh, blocking New Delhi's efforts to get Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar banned by the United Nations and stalling India's bid for NSG membership.
Apart from starting negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement and a treaty on 'Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation, the Chinese Ambassador asked New Delhi to not confuse the route that corridor takes to sovereignty issues. It is for promoting economic cooperation and connectivity. "It has no connections to or impact on sovereignty issues," he said.
The attempt to emphasise that the corridor was an economic project is an argument that has been made more than once in the past, including in the China's state-run media. But New Delhi has consistently rejected the distinction that Mr Lou sought to make.
Just last month, Minister of State for foreign affairs General VK Singh (Retired) told Lok Sabha that suggestions that New Delhi joined CPEC reflect lack of understanding and appreciation of India's concerns on its sovereignty.
General Singh said PM Modi had also conveyed concerns about the corridor to Beijing and asked them to cease these activities. "It has been pointed out to them that Pakistan has been in illegal occupation of parts of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir since 1947," he said.
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