CPEC: Why is India wary of others joining the China-Pakistan project?


China and Pakistan last month invited other countries to join projects related to their mammoth, multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative, drawing a stern rebuke from India, which slammed the move as "illegal" and "unacceptable."

New Delhi has long opposed the infrastructure and connectivity corridor as it passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which New Delhi sees as a part of its territory "illegally occupied" by Islamabad.

"We have seen reports on encouraging a proposed participation of third countries in so-called CPEC projects. Any such actions by any party directly infringe on India's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs, said in a statement.

Despite India's criticism, both Beijing and Islamabad appear to want to push ahead with their CPEC expansion plans. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently expressed his support for the extension of the project to Afghanistan.

Managing the CPEC image?

Analysts in New Delhi see the latest developments as an effort by China and Pakistan to show that the CPEC has been a success and it is being expanded to create larger regional stability and prosperity.

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, director of the Center for Security, Strategy and Technology at the Observer Research Foundation, said that Beijing and Islamabad were trying to create an "image perception" that the initiative is a success story despite a lot of problems plaguing it.

Among the issues, she pointed out, are concerns related to the economic viability of the projects as well as growing worries about security, particularly in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province.

The CPEC, a $65 billion-plus (€63.75 billion) investment in infrastructure in Pakistan, is part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative to seek road and sea trade routes to connect with the rest of the world.