BEIJING – China will respond to any Indian plot which disrupts the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, an influential Chinese think tank warned Monday.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reference to Balochistan in his Independence Day speech is the ‘latest concern’ for China and among its scholars, Hu Shisheng, the director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), said in an interview.

This think tank is among China’s most powerful, and is affiliated with the country’s ministry of state security. The researcher also said India’s growing military ties with the US and its changed attitude on the disputed South China Sea are “ringing alarm bells for China”.

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Hu said China feared India may “use anti-government elements” in Balochistan, where Beijing is building CPEC – a key to the success of its ambitious ‘One Road, One Belt’ project.

“If this kind of plot causes damage to CPEC, China will have to get involved,” he said, referring to the alleged involvement of India in backing separatists in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.

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“My personal view is that if India is adamant and if the Indian factor is found by China or Pakistan in disrupting the process of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), if that becomes a reality, it will really become a disturbance to China-India relations, India-Pakistan relations.

“If that happens China and Pakistan could have no other way but take united steps. I want to say that the Pakistan factor could surge again to become the most disturbing factor in China-India relations, even more than the Tibet, border and trade imbalance issues,” he told PTI.

“All the three countries could be badly derailed from their current facts of economic and social development. It could be very bad,” Hu added.