Due to its almost USD 50 billion investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK), China has a "vested interest" in acting as a mediator between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue, according to an article in a state-run daily.
The article published in the Global Times, a publication of the ruling Communist Party of China, suggested Beijing's latent interest in playing a bigger role in the region.
Claiming that China had mediated between Myanmar and Bangladesh over the Rohingya refugees issue, the article said, "China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, but that doesn't mean Beijing can turn a deaf ear to the demands of Chinese enterprises in protecting their overseas investments."
"Given the massive investment that China has made in countries along the One Belt, One Road, China now has a vested interest in helping resolve regional conflicts including the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan", it said.
China's recent mediation between Myanmar and Bangladesh over the Rohingya issue shows the increased ability of Beijing in resolving conflicts beyond its borders to maintain regional stability, the article said.
CHINA AT THE CENTRE OF REGIONAL POWER SHIFT
"China has been at the centre of a regional power shift, thus the country now needs to learn how to act as a stabilising force and conflict mediator in the region", it said.
There is so much to learn for China about how to play its role as a regional power at a time when the country is witnessing a boom in outbound direct investment, the article said.
"For instance, while China has the capability to resolve conflicts through mediation given its increased economic influence, the nation needs to be very prudent in dealing with other big powers, India included, in the region," it said.
"In fact, mediating between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue would perhaps be one of the toughest challenges facing China in dealing with regional affairs to safeguard its overseas interests", the article said.
This is perhaps the first time that Chinese official media started floating Beijing's interest in playing a mediatory role to resolve the Kashmir issue.
WHAT IS CHINA'S OFFICIAL STAND?
China's official stand is that the Kashmir issue left over from history should be resolved between India and Pakistan, though Beijing has been stepping up its investments in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
While China in the past has played down reports of the presence of its troops in PoK, saying that they were there to deliver humanitarian assistance, its USD 46 billion China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through the disputed Gilgit and Baltistan region increased its involvement in the disputed areas.
The CPEC project will link the Pakistani city of Gwadar to China's Xinjiang via a vast network of highways and railways.
India has protested to China over the CPEC and is yet to name an official delegation to take part in a summit of the Belt and Road initiative, of which CPEC is a part. The summit is to be held from May 14-15.
Chinese official media also referred to last month's participation of Chinese troops for the first time in the Pakistan Day parade as a sign of the Chinese military playing a role in regional stability.
(WITH INPUTS FROM PTI)