Washington: The Trump administration has said that it believes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through disputed territory — an allegation originally leveled by India to thwart the multibillion-dollar project.
India skipped the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in May this year due to its sovereignty concerns over the nearly USD 60 billion CPEC, a flagship project of China’s prestigious One Belt One Road (OBOR), which passes through Pakistan-administered-Kashmir.
“In a globalised world, there are many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating ‘one belt, one road’,” US Defence Secretary James Mattis told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing earlier this week.
“The One Belt, One Road also goes through the disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate,” Mattis said, as he and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford appeared before the Senate and House armed services panel to brief US lawmakers on the current situation in the Pak-Afghan region.
The US defence chief added that common grounds should be found with China to thwart terrorism.
“As far as Afghanistan goes, as we try to separate out variables where, in some areas, we work with China, for example, terrorism — I think there are areas where we can work — find common ground with China when it comes to counterterrorism, and we should exercise those areas pretty fully,” Mattis said.
Mattis was responding to a question from Senator Charles Peters over OBOR and China’s policy in this regard.
“The One Belt One Road strategy seeks to secure China’s control over both the continental and the maritime interest, in their eventual hope of dominating Eurasia and exploiting natural resources there, things that are certainly at odds with US policy. So what role do you see China playing in Afghanistan, and particularly related to their One Belt One Road,” Peter had asked.
The United States’ stance on CPEC could further strain relations between Pakistan and the US, especially after US President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of providing ‘safe harbour’ to terrorists in his August speech.
(With inputs from PTI)