Brushing aside India's concerns over the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan economic corridor being built through PoK as a "cliche", a former Chinese diplomat today said India being a "big country" should be "broad minded".
"Karakoram highway is an old question," Former Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Zhang Chunxiang said here while interacting with local and foreign media.
Zhang, who retired after serving as the Ambassador of China to Pakistan during which the corridor connecting Pakistan's Gwardar port with China's Xinjiang took shape, referred to the 1963 China-Pakistan agreement to settle border issues in which Islamabad ceded large tracts of territory of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to China despite Indian objections.
A clause of the Pakistan-China agreement says it is subject to the settlement of the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan.
"Many Indian friends keep asking this question. This actually a cliche an old question. I don't want to repeat it again," Zhang said when asked about how China which objects projects in the disputed South China Sea is building the corridor through the disputed region.
Asked to elaborate, Zhang said India and Pakistan should work together to solve the issue.
"You two countries need to work to solve it," he said.
Ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan this month during which the corridor was launched, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao had said the project is between China and Pakistan and does not concern the relevant dispute between India and Pakistan.
"So I do not think that the Indian side should be over concerned about that," he had said about PoK.
According to reports, the proposed corridor runs through the Karakoram highway.
During the session arranged by All China Journalists Association today, Zhang said India being a big country should show broad mindedness.
"We should not always stick to past history. Chinese people are very candid. Do not talk about things which are not good for relationship," he said, asking the media to work for the friendship of India and China.
"We should not stick to some bad old historical and some trivial things. India is a big country. As a big country India should be broad minded. Narrow mindedness will only lead to bad consequences," he said.
Zhang, who has visited India five times said, "When I went to India I need to get a visa through a complicated process. When I visit Pakistan, I don't have to get a visa at all. So do you think the long process of visa application shows good relations between our two countries? No."
Talking about concerns over terrorism in Pakistan, he asked, "Has the US eradicated terrorism? Can Pakistan do it, no not possible. Can India do it, no not now. You capture some terrorists. There will be new terrorists. Terrorism is due to deep rooted causes. Pakistan has terrorists and terrorism."
"China knows that some terrorists entered China. China-Pakistan cooperation has been very successful. Because of good cooperation between the two countries, the main terrorists of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) no longer exist. The cooperation between the two countries is very good and close," he said.
China alleges that the ETIM is responsible for recent violent attacks in Xinjiang and various parts of China.
Pakistan is conducting military operations in tribal areas to destroy the bases of ETIM.
Zhang said, "Security issues are still a big challenge to the Pakistan government, military and people. We have lot of expectations from them. Hope they can solve the security problem. Also in tackling terrorist activities, we should be firm and never waver. China, Pakistan cooperation is very successful."
Asked about concerns in China over the safety of the economic corridor which amounted to one third of China's military budget of USD 140 billion last year, Zhang shot back saying, "can we get the returns from USD 1.20 trillion from US bonds? Why don't you ask this question. How long we have been buying such huge debt from the US."
China which has about USD 3.80 trillion foreign exchange reserves, invested about USD 1.20 trillion in US debt.
"In Pakistan, we are making such investments in the project for several decades, including commercial and preferential loans. Never any problems occurred," he said adding that Pakistan promptly paid back the loans.
"They have a reputation of repaying loans and the projects are highly crucial for livelihood of Pakistan. That is really in a sense better than buying US debt. We can have safety and security of our investment because that is based on total mutual trust. I want say that the Chinese government really have the vision and insight and courage in doing this," Zhang said.