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China’s Belt and Road Initiative opportunity for India: Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon

"There are evident advantages (of BRI) for the Chinese economy," he said, adding "BRI will set standards across countries and markets."

By: PTI | Mumbai | Published: April 21, 2017 7:25 pm

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China, which aims to link Asia with Europe for trade and other exchanges, represents an opportunity for India, former Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said here today. “This does represent an opportunity for India. Even if some portion of what is proposed in the BRI is implemented, it will markedly change the economic and strategic landscape within which we operate,” he said. Menon was speaking at a conference on ‘The Belt and Road Initiative: India’s perspectives on China’s ambitious plan for infrastructural connectivity in Asia, Africa and Europe’, organised by Mumbai-based Observer Research Foundation.

“The connectivity that BRI promises will benefit all the exporting countries in Asia which need to be better connected with their markets and suppliers. There are maritime and continental connectivity gaps in Eurasia that need to be filled,” the former national security adviser said.

“There are evident advantages (of BRI) for the Chinese economy,” he said, adding “BRI will set standards across countries and markets.”

“If there is an attempt to exclude economic rivals or pursue political or security goals, the economic benefits will be limited,” Menon said.

“There will be certain benefits for the Chinese economy and also advantages for the others who participate in the BRI,” he said. The former Foreign Secretary noted that not all projects under BRI were economically viable, suggesting that they would have some geostrategic motivations, for instance, the China-Pakistan economic corridor.

“It is very hard to see an economic justification for it. It is the strategic portion such as a port which has been implemented first,” Menon said.

“For India, there is the added complication that it goes through Indian territory under Pakistani occupation. Making a long-term investment on that basis seems to solidify and legitimise that occupation.

“Much of the planned BRI infrastructure is in regions and countries where security is weak and politics is unstable. Therefore, the risks to large-scale investments are considerable,” he said.

Menon, who recently came out with his book on India’s nuclear weapons doctrine, said, “China, like India, today is one of the most outspoken advocates of globalisation and multilateralism. “The BRI involves 65 countries and 4.4 billion people,” he added.

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  1. Shivam
    Apr 22, 2017 at 12:42 am
    It can also help in the development of North East.
    1. K
      K. Dutt
      Apr 21, 2017 at 9:36 pm
      As the ex-foreign secretary says the benefits derived from the BRI will be largely for China. Others will have benefits(s s) after Chinese needs are satisfied. "Others" are needed both for the completion of the BRI infrastructure and the hegemonic control it will provide over others. For benefits to be derived, examine the trade gap between and China. One does not need BRI for it. Globalisation is another name for self-interest first.
      1. Ivan
        Apr 21, 2017 at 7:35 pm
        The so-called benefits are all nonsense. It is China's aim to be the Manchester, the manufacturing hub of the world. For that they would like greater connectivity with Europe. But the European po tions are aging. They don't want to buy more stuff and in any case have manufacturing of their own. The worldwide infrastructure of ports and ships provide sufficient connectivity for all eventualities. The so called Silk Road is just another excuse for China to employ its considerable po tion to build roads and railways. But for all present and future purposes ships and aeroplanes are available at all price points and service levels.