India skips China’s Belt and Road summit following ‘sovereignty’ concerns over CPEC
No Indian delegation was seen at the opening ceremony of China’s Belt and Road Forum addressed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who delivered a keynote speech at the opening of the two-day meet for International Cooperation in Beijing today.
Xi said that the Belt and Road initiative should be an open one that will achieve both economic growth and balanced development. “We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy.”
China welcomes efforts made by other countries to grow open economies, participate in global governance and provide public goods, he said.
“Together we can build a broad community of shared interests,” Xi added.
INDIA BOYCOTTS BELT AND ROAD FORUM
The Chinese president’s remarks came after India on Saturday refused to be part of Beijing’s One Belt One Road initiative maintaining its opposition to China’s investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Few Indian scholars attended the meeting today. Media was not permitted inside the conference hall, where the opening ceremony took place.
The general view was that India attending the forum might amount to surrendering its claim over the region.However, Beijing has repeatedly sought to allay New Delhi’s fears, saying China will not change its position on the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay on Saturday had said, “No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Xi Jinping also called for upholding the multilateral trading regime, advancing free trade areas and promoting liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment.
WHAT IS THE CONFERENCE ABOUT?
China is organising a two-day Belt and Road conference in Beijing that started today, which will be attended by 29 heads of states including Russian President Vladimir Putin, a US delegation, Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickrmasinghe, and will see the participation of over 100 countries.
India will not be participating in the summit and neither will Bhutan. Nepal on Saturday officially inked a deal with China on OBOR for development of cross-border connectivity.
The $46-billion CPEC is part of OBOR, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy initiative.
WHY INDIA IS WARY
Citing other problems, Baglay yesterday said, “We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality.”
He also said that expansion and strengthening of connectivity was an integral part of India’s economic and diplomatic initiatives, while referring to India’s Act East policy.
The Act East policy focuses on the 10 nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the Trilateral Highway project underway to link India, Myanmar and Thailand.
GO WEST POLICY
Baglay said that under India’s Go West strategy, it engaged with Iran on the Chabahar Port and with Iran and other partners in Central Asia on the International North South Transport Corridor. India, Iran, and Afghanistan have signed a trilateral agreement to develop the Chabahar port that will will be vital to link south and central Asia.
He also referred to the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) motor transport agreement saying it is an initiative that is aimed at enhancing logistics efficiencies in the South Asian region.
“We are also actively considering acceding to TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers or International Road Transports) Convention,” he said.