China on Thursday sought to defend the proposed bus service with Pakistan through PoK, 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 on Wednesday said it has lodged strong protests with China and Pakistan over the proposed bus service between the two countries through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs said on Wednesday 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-occupied 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 positon is clear cut. We made it clear many times,” Chinese Foreign Ministry 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