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China has played down the US criticism of the Belt and Road project, especially the controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) artery, and denied that Beijing is trying to foist the project.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry told IANS that the CPEC, which goes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir that is claimed by India, was an economic project that does not target New Delhi.
Beijing also said that it "adhered to the 'discuss, build, share' concept and followed reasonable and transparent international economic and trade investment rules system".
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday slammed China's Belt and Road initiative and backed India's stance that the project passed through disputed territory.
"In a globalised world, there are many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating 'one belt, one road'," Mattis told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing.
"That said, the One Belt One Road also goes through disputed territory, and I think, that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate," Mattis said, referring to India's concern over CPEC.
To this, China said that while the initiative was indeed its, more and more countries were willing to join the project.
"We have repeatedly said that the 'one side' initiative is made by China, but we always adhere to the 'discuss, build, share' concept ... discuss with everyone, together, and finally let everyone benefit," the Foreign Ministry told IANS in a statement.
Analysts, however, say it is not just an economic project and there is more to it than meets the eye.
India has openly opposed the Belt and Road, whose CPEC cuts through Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
India in May skipped the mega conference organised by China solely because of the CPEC.
To Mattis' allusion to India's concern over CPEC, China had the standard response.
"We have repeatedly reiterated that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor 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," the ministry said.
It said Beijing has "always been committed to working with the countries along the way to promote the construction of a fair, reasonable and transparent international economic and trade investment rules system.
"This is an important reason why the 'One Way' initiative can be supported and actively involved in an increasing number of international community members."
The statement also said that more than 70 countries and international organisations hada actively supported and participated in the project.
"In May this year, more than 130 countries and more than 70 international organisations were represented at the International Cooperation Summit Forum," it added.
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