The Chinese Foreign Ministry has dismissed United States (US) criticism that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through disputed territory, the Economic Times reported.

The $56 billion project passes through Pakistan's northern areas, which India claims is part of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir territory.

US Defence Sec­retary James Mattis told a US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week that the One Belt, One Road "goes through disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate."

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday told the Press Trust of India: "We have repeatedly reiterated that the CPEC is an economic cooperation initiative that is not directed against third parties and has nothing to do with territorial sovereignty disputes and does not affect China's principled stance on the Kashmir issue."

It added that over 70 countries and international organisations, including the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and UN Security Council, have signed cooperation agreements with Beijing on the OBOR initiative and incorporated it into important resolutions.

Pakistan has also dismissed the US reservations over CPEC, asserting that it is a "development and connectivity project for the betterment of the people in the region and beyond".

“The international community should [instead] focus on human rights violations and heinous crimes committed by Indian occupation forces in Indian occupied Kashmir,” read a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Saturday.

The new US position on CPEC has put further strain on already tense rel­ations between the US and Pakistan, which also opposed the greater role Washington has assigned to India in Afghanistan in a strategy President Trump announced on Aug 21.

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