A report by Swedish think-tank ‘Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’ has said that India is very much concerned about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) due to the dispute of Kashmir, fearing it also brings rise to China’s hegemony.
The report by SIPRI, considered one of the most influential think-tanks in the world, titled “The Silk Road Economic Belt: Considering security implications and EU–China cooperation prospects” looks at China‘s transcontinental vision of which CPEC is a integral component and has intensified competition over influence in South Asia.
China considers CPEC to be a flagship project of the Silk Road Economic Belt as it has the most concrete design and construction is intrastate, and predominantly because there is a great deal of political trust between China and Pakistan.
The report states that the motivating factors for CPEC stem from the broader Chinese–Pakistani relationship which has always been security- and India-centric. CPEC is a result of the synergy of the evolving development agendas of China and Pakistan, and not solely Chinese drivers and interests.
However, CPEC has also raised political temperatures between India and Pakistan and the stance by India is clear-cut that it strongly opposes the project as it passes through disputed territories. India has also raised doubts over its economic viability and anxiety that it might be a geopolitical ploy.
This has caused paranoia and sparked heated debate in Indian circles. The report states that Indian scholars are apprehensive that CPEC has security implications for India. There are also concerns that CPEC over the longer term would have strategic consequences which could reshape the regional balance of power in favour of China and limit India’s geopolitical reach.
Furthermore, China has also increasingly asserted itself in the South China Sea which has implanted a preoccupation among critics in India that China could gain a foothold in the Arabian Sea and, as an extension, in the Indian Ocean through Gwadar, and might make national interest claims in India’s maritime sphere too.
The reports said that if Gwadar grows to be the immense port China envisions it to become, then China will need to take on a bigger direct or indirect security role. It is commonly presumed in India that CPEC may be of dual civilian and military use, and that China will use Gwadar to observe Indian naval activity and possibly even exploit it for an expansion of China’s own naval presence.
More importantly, there is considerable concern within India that China can no longer be neutral on Kashmir, which it has been since 1963, and that its economic and security interests are growing in stake.
India also does not want a mediating role for China in these disputes since the border incident in 1962. However, it remains to be seen whether CPEC will contribute to a resolution of this dispute or further fan the flames, the report adds.