BEIJING: China does not see the recent move by Iran in collaboration with Afghanistan, and with financial support from India, to develop the port and road network at Chabahar for expanding regional trade as an attempt to undermine the Gwadar port project or the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In fact, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is convinced that the projects have the potential to complement each other in boosting the otherwise sluggish economies of the region.

In an interaction with a group of Asian newspaper editors, Premier Li said the economic crises in Asia as well as in the rest of the world could be countered by encouraging and supporting each of the regional countries in taking effective measures.

Rejecting the notion that the Chabahar project could be an irritant to China’s ambitious ‘one belt, one road’ project that plans to connect over two dozen countries for the purpose of trade, he said Beijing might even like to benefit from it. “And I think other countries should also consider doing the same,” he said, because economic progress in the region could only come through mutual understanding of “our shared goals and objectives”.


Li Keqiang says China will never seek hegemony nor will it bully any country


The Chabahar project has lately been a topic of intense discussion in Pakistan, where some believe it is in response to CPEC, and a few have gone to the extent of declaring it a security threat to Pakistan.

During the meeting, the discussion largely focused on China being perceived by many as the new ‘superpower’ and a ‘regional bully’ vis-a-vis its stated policy on the South China Sea controversy, and conflicts with some of the ASEAN and other regional states.

Premier Li not only denied this impression, he was quite categorical in stating that China did not have any such ambitions. “There are no grounds for China to become a superpower, and neither does China have the ambition to become one.”

While downplaying the widely held view that China wanted soon to take centre stage as an economic powerhouse and a superpower, Mr Li expressed the view that his country had a long way to go to realise the goals of modernisation.

He went on to say that even if China did achieve modernisation in the coming decades, Beijing would not seek hegemony, and nor would it bully any country, however small that country was in terms of population or landmass.

He did admit that differences existed on certain issues between China and some of the regional countries, but said none of them were serious enough to be a cause of concern. “Just as a person might accidentally bite his lips, it is only natural that neighbours will have differences,” he said. “But the key is to address such issues in a calm and diplomatic way.

“The common interests among China and its neighbours are way greater than disparities, and we can always optimise the common interests and better manage our differences.”

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2016

Opinion

Karachi development
Updated 13 Apr 2021

Karachi development

Our planners must learn that infrastructure and services are essential to economic progress.
The government’s emerging traits
Updated 12 Apr 2021

The government’s emerging traits

Frequent bureaucratic changes signify a whimsical way of governing and reflect knee-jerk reactions to the criticism of the day.

Editorial

Reform after Daska
Updated 13 Apr 2021

Reform after Daska

Electoral malpractice generates instability and delegitimises the mandate of the winner, triggering one crisis after another.
13 Apr 2021

Reinstating LGs

THE PTI government in Punjab is sending confused and conflicting signals to people when it comes to the critical...
13 Apr 2021

Remembering I.A. Rehman

THE quest for a progressive society in Pakistan, at peace with itself and its neighbours, suffered a big setback in...
Pakistan-India peace
Updated 12 Apr 2021

Pakistan-India peace

Experts note that everything — including Kashmir — can be resolved if there is a will in both capitals.
12 Apr 2021

Child abuse

IN its annual report, the NGO Sahil found that there has been a 4pc increase in documented cases of major crimes...
12 Apr 2021

New tax chief’s task

THE FBR got a new chairman on Friday. Asim Ahmed, a senior IRS officer who was serving as the Board’s IT member...