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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2619

China Has No Right To Talk About Peace

By Tukoji R. Pandit - Syndicate Features

China’s recent statements, delivered through its many media outlets, on its desire to mediate on the issue of Kashmir are uncalled for and unwarranted. Kashmir is, as it has always been an integral part of India and China should keep away from commenting on matters which can be best, and are being done so, addressed by the elected representatives of the Indian people.

Lest anyone harbour any wrong notions about China’s projected `concern`, it is better to remember the kind of atrocities China heaps on its own Muslim, and Tibetan, citizens. China has unleashed an unprecedented repressive onslaught against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, not far from Kashmir, forcing them to abstain from sporting long beards, wearing veils, keeping Islamic names and avoid keeping fast during the holy month of Ramzan.

These reprehensible measures have been imposed on the 10-million strong Muslim populations over and above the periodical military offensives against them in the name of fighting terrorism. In Xinjiang, it is the state terrorism which is causing violence and distress among the people.

The Chinese treatment of the Tibetan population is well-documented and remains one of the tragic episodes of the recent history. Not only was the independent kingdom of Tibet forcibly occupied and taken over, its ruler and citizens driven out, China made sure that the Tibetans who were forced to remain behind never enjoyed any right of being the citizens of China. They become second-class citizens, their movement restricted and their life lived under the hawk eyes of the security forces.

Even in the mainland, China has not been forgiving about any transgressions on the part of its citizens. Dissenters have had their voices crushed brutally or forced to flee, leaving behind their family and cultural moorings. The journalists have long forgotten what it means to report truthfully; reporting is managed by the state and any deviation is met with brutal reprisals. Artists and writers, who even dream of writing and presenting their responses and reactions to the way the Community Party of China was running the country, are either thrown out of the country or thrown into prisons.

With no moral or political right to play judge in other nation’s internal affairs, China’s interest in the region in fact stems from its two basic aspirations—one to play Big Brother in the region and then expand it to cover the world and two, make Pakistan as a vassal state to achieve the first objective in addition to keeping India under check and the US away from the region and the Indian Ocean. China, of course, has no concern for the people of the sub-continent; it is a country which is more interested in keeping its own citizens subjugated.

An important part of this game is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The project aims to kill many birds with one stone. One, it will change the demographic and economic profile of the Muslim-dominated western province of Xinjiang. With the area flooded with container traffic, warehouses and train traffic, and the resultant chaos and urban mess, the people of Xinjiang will find their traditional lives and customs transformed beyond belief, and retrieval. Xinjiang will become a huge container terminal for China.

Second, since the project runs through the disputed territory of Pak-occupied Kashmir, it will subvert the Indian position that the Kashmir territory under the illegal occupation of Pakistan must be restored before any resolution could be achieved on contentious issues between India and Pakistan. The importance of this issue was underlined recently by the former Indian National Security Adviser, Mr Shiv Shankar Menon, who said India cannot accept the proposed rail-road link between China and Pakistan running through Pak occupied Kashmir.

The Chinese move, of course, helps Pakistan in remaining in illegal occupation of Indian Territory. Not that the people of the disputed territory are any happy. Their lives are coming apart right before their eyes. The most affected are the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, who have never been comfortable about being part of Pakistan, which, many believe, they were forced into. The traditional way of the Baltis, as the people of this region are called, are under serious threat from the massive infrastructure project running through some of the most fragile eco-systems of the world.

Home and hearth of several communities have been snatched away from them and they have been forced to migrate to urban slums or remote places higher up in the Himalayas. Once crystal clear, brooks and streams have long since become heavy with debris and waste from construction sites; mountain sides have been blown apart, valleys cut ruthlessly, alpine meadows bulldozed and ancient forests cut down mercilessly—the destruction brought about the CPEC is an unmitigated disaster.

For all these sufferings, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan is not going to benefit in terms of economic development, jobs, schools, hospitals or better life. Their life, in fact, is going to become more miserable once their pristine land is left desolate and destroyed in the years ahead.

The CPEC makes a similar victim of the people of Baluchistan, a long-suffering community of proud people who have been subjected to untold repression and misery for decades by Islamabad. The tail-end of the CPEC project is in Balochistan where the highway meets up with the Arabian Sea in Gwadar. In Gwadar, local Baloch face imminent displacement or perpetual life in slums as spanking new corridor will bypass them, literally over their heads and homes, to secured locations where the Chinese will run their warehouses and industrial units. Like the Baltis, the Baloch too have no place in the corridor.

Not those Pakistani citizens in other provinces are going to benefit from the project in expected measure. The real beneficiaries would be the Chinese, then Pakistan Army, the industrial houses and the politicians. While the rich Pakistanis would become more wealthy, it would be the Chinese who would laugh their way to the bank, earning not only massive interests for the loans they have given to Pakistan but also from the profits earned from running and utilising the transit corridor. Strategically, the Chinese gets to encircle India and get a doorway to the Indian Ocean through Arabian Sea.

The Chinese pretensions of being a mediator is riddle with purely self-interest and therefore must be rebuffed by all, especially the people of the region which are being taken for granted in the name of development.

- Asian Tribune -

China Has No Right To Talk About Peace
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