China on Thursday sought to defend the proposed bus service with Pakistan through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, saying its cooperation with Islamabad has nothing to do with the territorial dispute and will not change its principled stance on the Kashmir issue.
India Wednesday said it has lodged strong protests with China and Pakistan over the proposed bus service between the two countries through PaK under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
India's Ministry of External Affairs said the bus service will be a violation of India's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
According to reports from Pakistan, the new bus service will be launched between Lahore in Pakistan and Kashgar in China via Pakistan-administered Kashmir on November 3.
Its launch apparently is coinciding with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's maiden visit to China starting from Friday.
Asked about India's protest, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he was not aware of India's diplomatic protest.
"But on the issue of Kashmir, China's position is clear cut. We made it clear many times," he said.
China's stand he said is that the "cooperation between China and Pakistan has nothing to do with the territorial dispute and will not affect China's principled position on Kashmir," he said.
China maintains that the Kashmir issue should be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan through dialogue and consultation.
He defended the USD 60 billion CPEC, saying that it is an economic cooperation project between China and Pakistan.
"It is not targeted against any third party," he said.
The CPEC involves a host of projects connects China's Xinjiang province with Pakistan's Gwadar port in Balochistan province.
Pakistan Thursday rejected protests by India against the proposed bus service under CPEC.
'WE REJECT INDIA'S PROTEST'
"We reject the Indian Ministry of External Affairs' purported protest and statement regarding bus service through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)," Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) said.
The FO said India's repeated regurgitation of claims over Jammu and Kashmir can neither change the facts of history nor the legality of the Kashmir dispute.
It said as per the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution, the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed, the final status of which is to be determined through a democratic and impartial plebiscite to be held under the auspices of the UN.
The FO said Kashmir was the most militarised zone in the world.
Pakistan also asked India to allow the Commission of Inquiry (COI) recommended by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to investigate human rights violations.
It also called on India to resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.