Rather belatedly, but better late than never, India has come out in strong opposition to the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project which would give China easy access to the sea, facilitating its designs to exercise hegemony over trade routes to the detriment of India and other countries. The controversial road is slated to pass through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) which technically and in India’s legitimate narrative is a part of this country. During the G-20 summit in September last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed India’s concern over the CPEC in his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, holding that the two countries needed to be ‘sensitive’ to each other’s strategic interests, but there has been the absence of a clear, forthright Indian stand in international forums to espouse Indian objections to it. Even now, the opposition to the CPEC is contained in an annual report submitted to Parliament by the Defence Ministry. This is not enough. It is indeed time India takes up the issue strongly that this poses a challenge to Indian sovereignty, which this country will not tolerate. This is apparently part of China’s sinister plans to exercise control over all waterways so as to regulate trade to its advantage.
Recently, in another provocative action, Pakistan has given hints that it is looking at carving out a new state of Gilgit-Baltistan which is part of PoK and which India regards as its own territory under Pakistani annexation. Since the Pakistanis are apparently doing this at the instance of China which now has a stake in the region, Indian sensitivities would be disregarded. But it is important that India assert its sovereignty strongly for international posturing. It would indeed be a great folly for India to show to the world that it has shed its claims over Pak-occupied Kashmir. If this country is to emerge as a regional power, it will have to stick its neck out and to take a stand against Chinese hegemonistic designs. Japan has recently shown the way by announcing plans to send its biggest aircraft carrier to the South China Sea in defiance of China’s diktats to keep off. India too needs to take the Chinese bull by the horns to assert its authority lest it be taken for granted. The CPEC would be inimical to Indian interests and there is no need to be shy of opposing it tooth and nail.