China has been wishing for India to join the multi-billion Infrastructural and energy project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that would bring about new connectivity in Asia. India objects to the CPEC for a variety of reasons. The prime objection is that the CPEC goes through the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir contested between Pakistan and India that questions Indian sovereignty as India considers the whole of Jammu and Kashmir as its own territory. Pakistan does not accept Indian claim and sovereignty over Kashmir. The matter is disputed between India and Pakistan and the dispute lies in the UN Security Council for a resolution. Kashmiris are indispensible party to the dispute.

China wants India to reconsider over its stance taken on the CPEC until the resolution of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. This is not an official Chinese position but it comes from scholars and journalists etc. An unofficial advice appeared in the State-run Global Times, the mouth piece of the Communist Party of China, about India’s joining of the multi-billion infrastructural and energy project of the CPEC.

Officially, China expresses its neutrality over the Kashmir dispute but India finds it is tilted toward Pakistan over the issue. India objects to the landmark border agreement of 1963 between China and Pakistan that formed Gilgit-Baltistan - a part of Kashmir. The agreement was a provisional arrangement and not the permanent border between China and Pakistan.

Probably, China wants India to make a provisional approval of the CPEC until the dispute is resolved between India and Pakistan. It looks, however, that India has not been looking at the Chinese proposal seriously, fearing that the proposal could result in a permanent loss of Kashmir to Pakistan and to Chinese policy. India fears that the idea of the CPEC would weaken India’s stance on Kashmir.

Long Xingchun, in his short article published in Global Times on 6 March, thinks that the CPEC would not change the status quo in Kashmir because projects under the CPEC could bring about only economic change. India does not buy this argument and thinks that an economic change would be followed by a political change.

The other argument given by Long is that Kashmir can be compared with Taiwan and says that China claims sovereignty over Taiwan but ‘’Beijing doesn’t object any economic links between Taiwan and other countries including India, because economic activities won’t alter China’s sovereignty over the island’’.

There is a partial truth in this argument. There are two contenders for Taiwan: the Taiwanese and mainland Chinese. There is no third contender. On Kashmir there are three contenders: India, Pakistan, and the people of Kashmir. Whereas Taiwan looks more simple, Kashmir looks more complicated. In the final solution, Taiwan would be reverted to China. India does not enjoy such a fate in Kashmir. The people of Kashmir would decide their fate. Kashmir is not an integral part of India.

Additionally, Taiwan was not further divided. Taiwan represented China in the United Nations until 1971. Taiwan has chosen a market approach to become a powerful economy right in the 1950s. External forces cooperated with it to counter China.

The situation in Kashmir is different. It was divided between India and Pakistan. It lacked unity because of Indian military control and part taken by Pakistan. Kashmir’s voice was snubbed and it could not attain the privileges such as those by exercised by Taiwan.

China did not object to Taiwan having economic relations with other countries but India did not allow Kashmir to develop its economic relations with other countries. Azad Kashmir also has no independent economic relations either. Kashmir’s independent economic relations are at the mercy of India and Pakistan.

Long’s suggestion is good but in the internal dynamics of Kashmir such a suggestion would not work out. Therefore, one cannot draw complete parallels between Taiwan and Kashmir. The essential substance of the two conflicts is different.

On the above, the exercise of right to self-determination is the only way to resolve the Kashmir dispute. It is recognised by the United Nations in January 1948. China’s position on Taiwan is totally different. For China, Taiwan is a renegade province that must be return to China.

The ideal proposal could be that India should join the CPEC keeping in mind that Kashmir is a disputed territory and would be resolved as per the wishes of the people under the auspicious of the United Nations. The CPEC could bring about economic dividends to both parts of Kashmir, creating more jobs, building infrastructural, setting up industrial zones, and providing regional connectivity with China, Central Asia, and other countries and regions. If India declines such economic opportunities to Indian Held Kashmir, consequences could well be estimated.