China on Thursday asked India to shed its objections and join the ambitious ‘Belt and road initiative’. Beijing also reiterated that the project’s goal is to promote common prosperity and that it shall not change China’s stand on peaceful resolution of Kashmir conflict.
“We welcome other countries including India to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on the basis of voluntarism,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media briefing in Beijing on Thursday. “The initiative will not affect China’s position on relevant issues and our position on relevant initiatives will not be changed,” he said. The BRI will bring tangible benefits to those who are participating in the project at an early date, Geng added. Read | China ready to address Indian concerns over BRI
The BRI also includes the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. According to a senior CPC official, the Chinese firms have invested USD 560 billion overseas for the project that has been included in Constitution of the ruling Communist Party of China. A massive amount of investment has also been made by host of other countries including Pakistan.
China and India have been on loggerheads over the project as it is being laid through the Pakistan occupied Kashmir. While China calls it a connectivity project, India has raised its reservations about it traversing through the disputed territory. India had also boycotted a high-profile Belt and Road Forum organised by China in May. While the CPEC is highlighted as “flagship project”, the BRI includes the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor, New Eurasian Land Bridge, China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor and 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
Referring to India’s reservations, Yao Wen, Counsellor of the Department of Asian Affairs under China’s MFA had earlier said, “India has expressed its concerns on CPEC because they believe CPEC passes through territory they believe is their own. One important project is the Karakoram Road. This is the only land passage between China and Pakistan. It was completed in the 1970s and we are upgrading this road for more convenient transport. We keep telling our friends in India that the BRI and CPEC are not about territorial claims and will not affect China’s position on the Kashmir issue.”
(with PTI inputs)