This has reference to the debate in POINT-COUNTERPOINT on the issue of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor in the April-May 2017 issue of SALUTE. In my view, New Delhi has acted correctly in abstaining from the OBOR and made its stand clear on the CPEC as well. It would be a contradiction if we did not object as the CPEC passes through an area that is constitutionally the territory of India, though it be under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. New Delhi has correctly seen through the game plan of both China and Pakistan and acted in accordance with the best interests of the Indian Union.
—Brig Chander Thapa
The viewpoint expressed by Dr Srinath Raghavan in POINT-COUNTERPOINT on the issue of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor article is a frank and realistic appraisal of India-China relations and their standing in the world. India has refused to kowtow to the Chinese strategy of OBOR for some weighty reasons, which have not been given out. Objecting on the issue of sovereignty however does not sound too well. Firstly, when India could not prevent construction of highway through Aksai Chin, the claims of sovereignty sound a bit weak. Why is India then not letting this far more serious sovereignty issue to affect the Indo-China relationship? The issue comes handy to refuse to join the initiative, but the real reason may be quite different, which India does not wish to divulge. We must also remember that Chinese imperialism is becoming a reality. India has been watching this unsavoury development with concern, but has been unable to counter it. This represents a failure of Indian policy. A deeper and starkly frank analysis is required. We feel happy pointing out the diabolic nature of Chinese scheme, but do not touch upon own shortcomings and failures. Our sense of national pride overshadows our judgement — a very damaging trait.
—Col Abdul Rasul Khan
There is a great deal of hype generated over China’s USD 124 billion One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project, also called the”New Silk Road” for economic growth and world trade. Closer home, there is much talk about CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), which will join Gwadar on the Persian Gulf in Baluchistan Province of Pakistan to Kashghar in Xinjiang province of China, over a distance of 3000 km. The rail, road and port projects are seen as game changers in Pakistan, but here too, the issues appear to be over-hyped. At the outset, let me quote Professor Mohan Malik of US based Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies. He recently told a Times Of India correspondent that Chinese officials, in jest, talked of buying off smaller countries instead of invading them. He further elaborated that China was in an “empire-building” mode and that China is trying to build an empire of exclusive economic enclaves that would create a Sinocentric unipolar Asia. Malik then described this as China’s ‘imperial overreach’ at a time of economic slowdown. According to me it is an ‘Economic Mouse Trap’ for small countries, from which they would never be able to free themselves. China has been the manufacturing hub of the world over the last few decades due to low cost of production, facilitated by low labour costs. Accordingly, many manufacturing giants shifted their base to China, which allowed China to market its goods world over competitively and be flushed with surplus funds. China has also used its manpower strength for controlled wages of labour to enhance its foreign earnings. However, due to upgradation of technologies and automation, the job market in China has shrunk, which has not only led to a reduction in the work force, but also curtailed fresh recruitment in the market. Unemployment has the potential to cause social tension and political upheaval which could endanger Chinese national security. Excessive funds and rising unemployment are thus the future trouble makers for China. Despite being a communist country, gap between rich and poor in China is widening. OBOR is hence being viewed as a panacea to overcome the problem of excessive funds and rising unemployment in China. This would enable China to divert its funds and its low tech workers to these regions and open the space in the job market for fresh recruitment. For China it is a win-win situation. It is to be noted that funds invested by China in all these countries are not financial assistance but loans, which these countries will not be able to refund. The case of Sri Lanka and Maldives are illustrative in this regard. For Pakistan, CPEC is a double edged weapon and would likely end in enslaving Pakistani society by virtual control over all walks of life in Pakistan. It seems, Pakistan has sold the future of her unborn generations to China. Once in, China will never go out because Pakistan won’t be able to repay the loan which amount to almost $100 billion in next 30 years. India, therefore, rightly refrained from attending BRF (Belt and road Forum ) Summit in Beijing on 12/14 May 2017. CPEC not only violates Kashmir sovereignty but is also a clever attempt to “intoxicate nations with money” and thus lose sight of biting fangs of Chinese imperialism.
—Col Rajinder Singh Kachhwaha