Beijing: China on Tuesday refrained from making any direct comment on Pakistan’s latest move on exercising administrative authority on Gilgit-Baltistan, but said the CPEC, which traverses through the disputed region, will not affect its stand that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Cabinet on May 21 approved Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 which was also endorsed by the region’s assembly. The order is being seen as Pakistan’s efforts towards incorporating the disputed region as its fifth province.
The move sparked anger in the region and drew strong reaction from New Delhi which said the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ areas, “is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947”.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing that “Kashmir issue is a historical baggage between India and Pakistan and therefore shall be resolved between the two sides through dialogue and consultation”.
Asked to comment on the Pakistan government’s Gilgit-Baltistan Order, Hua reiterated Beijing’s stand that the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which goes through Gilgit and Baltistan, will not affect its stand that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan.
“We have stressed many times that the CPEC is an initiative for economic cooperation. This is a cooperation framework which serves the purpose of economic development and the people’s livelihood. This initiative does not affect our position on the Kashmir issue,” she said.
Pakistan has bifurcated its Kashmir into two administrative parts – Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Gilgit-Baltistan was treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan till now.
It is believed that China’s concerns about the unsettled status of Gilgit-Baltistan prompted Pakistan to change the region’s status.