One Belt One Road: China-Pakistan warmth, India skips summit

Baglay said India is of the firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality.

Written by Apurva , Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi/beijing | Updated: May 14, 2017 8:16 am
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, right, and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shake hands during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Saturday, May 13, 2017. (Source: Thomas Peter/Pool Photo via AP)

SIGNALLING ITS strong displeasure at the inclusion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as part of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, India on Saturday decided not to send a high-level representative for the Belt and Road Forum that begins in China on Sunday.

“Regarding the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’, which is being projected as the flagship project of the OBOR, the international community is well aware of India’s position. No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Gopal Baglay. “Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

Baglay said India “received formal invitation to participate in the six separate forums that China is organising as part of the Belt and Road Forum being held in Beijing on May 14-16.” India’s decision — which is along expected lines, as it is in line with New Delhi’s position which was made clear early this year — came on a day when Pakistan signed six new agreements with China, after a meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and China’s Premier Li Keqiang.

Baglay said India is of the firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality.

Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long-term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities, he said.

Giving an account of India’s efforts, he said New Delhi shares the international community’s desire for enhancing physical connectivity and believes that it should bring greater economic benefits to all in an equitable and balanced manner. India is working with many countries and international institutions in support of physical and digital connectivity in its immediate neighbourhood.

Stressing that expansion and strengthening of connectivity is an integral part of India’s economic and diplomatic initiatives, he said that India is pursuing the Trilateral Highway project under the ‘Act East’ policy; developing multimodal linkages with Myanmar and Bangladesh under ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy; engaged with Iran on Chabahar Port and with Iran and other partners in Central Asia on International North South Transport Corridor under the ‘Go West’ strategy; and the BBIN initiative is aimed at enhancing logistics efficiencies in South Asian region.

“We are actively considering acceding to TIR Convention,” he said, referring to the Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods which was cleared by the Union Cabinet in March.

“Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative, ‘One Belt, One Road’, which was later renamed as ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. We are awaiting a positive response from the Chinese side,” he said.

Asked whether India has confirmed its participation in the forum, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang had said on Friday, “As far as I know, there are Indian scholars participating in relevant activities during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.”

The May 14-15 summit will be attended by 29 heads of state and governments, including one of India’s strategic partners — Russian President Vladimir Putin — and high-level delegations from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar. The US, France, Germany and UK are among the major powers participating at the BRF.

India has objected to OBOR on the basis of CPEC through diplomatic channels. Last week, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while responding to a query in Japan, had said, “I have no hesitation in saying we have some serious reservations about it (CPEC), because of sovereignty issues.”

In January, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had said that China has not been sensitive about India’s sovereignty and did not consult New Delhi on its US$ 54 billion project with Pakistan, referring to the CPEC.

Responding to questions at the second edition of the Raisina dialogue, Jaishankar had said, “China is a country which is very sensitive on matters concerning its sovereignty… so we would expect that they would have some understanding of other people’s sensitivity about their sovereignty. CPEC passes through a piece of land, which we call Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which is a territory that belongs to India and is illegally occupied by Pakistan.”

“So, the fact that such a project has been initiated without consultation with India, I would imagine, people will understand what the Indian reaction to that would be. So I think in approaching the CPEC, there needs to be some reflection on how a country like India would see… would feel… I am sorry to say that we have not seen signs of that so far,” he had said.

Jaishankar’s comments came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that “connectivity in itself cannot override or undermine the sovereignty of other nations”. “Only by respecting the sovereignty of countries involved, can regional connectivity corridors fulfill their promise and avoid differences and discord,” Modi had said in his inaugural address at the Raisina Dialogue. While India has raised the CPEC issue at various levels, including with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the BRICS summit in Goa last October, Jaishankar’s comments were the most critical and clear articulation.

Last week, in a bid to assuage New Delhi’s concerns, Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui offered to rename CPEC, insisting that it was an economic cooperation and connectivity enhancement project devoid of “sovereignty issues”. However, his comment suggesting the renaming was later deleted by the Chinese embassy from his speech posted on the embassy website.

A Chinese official in Delhi had also suggested last week that non-participation could lead to a situation where New Delhi would have “no voice” on Xi’s ambitious OBOR initiative to build seven economic corridors. “If India doesn’t attend the forum, the Chinese people will ask questions. It will give a feeling that you’re not constructive,” said the official. “If you’re absent, you have no voice.”

The official also suggested that China’s agreement with Pakistan for the CPEC wouldn’t affect any “future settlement” of the Kashmir issue.

Meanwhile, the MoUs signed by China and Pakistan today included an agreement to construct an airport in Gwadar, implementation of the Havelian dry port, and technical cooperation for the construction of the East Bay Expressway.

Xi met Sharif after the agreements were signed and said the construction of CPEC would be pushed forward. “The supplementary projects in and around Pakistan’s Gwadar Port should be steadily advanced and the study on the construction of industrial parks along the corridor facilitated,” state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

According to Xinhua, Xi also said that China-Pakistan relations were a priority for Beijing and it was willing to enrich the “all-weather strategic cooperative” partnership with Islamabad. “The two sides should not only continue high-level exchanges, but increase interactions between governments, legislative bodies and political parties. The two countries should strengthen cooperation on areas including anti-terrorism and security, and enhance coordination on major international and regional affairs,” said Xi, according to Xinhua.

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  1. L
    lafanga
    May 14, 2017 at 7:23 pm
    Keep sitting on the sidelines and sulking. OBOR and CPEC is going ahead whether India likes it or not. India cannot do jack to stop it.
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    1. B
      Bhuvan
      May 14, 2017 at 7:15 pm
      Boycott all china products from India and Recognise the defacto Government in Tibet and Taiwan.
      Reply
      1. N
        Nishant
        May 14, 2017 at 11:57 am
        CPEC is a rich mans dream project which is not well thought of and intended for poorer nations who already have huge trade deficits. Most small and big nations alike are batt joblessness at a massive scale since most of the industries had already migrated to China. Countries which seem to be doing good for now are the ones which can compete on their own strength, and if they open their door to China, they can buyout compe ion off the shelf. One belt is thus not the ancient silk route, which was two way in equal magnitude and benefit.For one belt to succeed, it is imperative that first it helps other nations to derive better profits and jobs, so that they could reverse the trade deficits and regenerate jobs which were lost to China during the last 20 years. That kind of deal, could later lead to more robust and durable economy for China. If the one belt is going to suck in raw materials one way and only finished products otherway, it will ruin everyone except China.
        Reply
        1. A
          ab nair
          May 14, 2017 at 10:37 am
          The Hindu kindly turn off your comment processor. It is updating my comments. If you update my comments then how it is going to be my view. Stop moral policing.
          Reply
          1. T
            Tallat mahmood
            May 14, 2017 at 10:14 am
            Chaaeiy wala garam garam ☕️
            Reply
            1. G
              Gopu
              May 14, 2017 at 10:12 am
              Its complete isolation of India Thanks to uneducated 56 inch
              Reply
              1. S
                Shantilal Parmar
                May 14, 2017 at 11:12 am
                Oh ya what about your friendly china not supporting in terrorist from again your favourite stan you dum guy
                Reply
                1. S
                  sumit
                  May 21, 2017 at 11:38 am
                  and the educated one commenting for dont getting isolated and need not do anything for sovereignity and help them in devastating one's one teritorry.
                  Reply
                2. M
                  Murthy
                  May 14, 2017 at 9:53 am
                  What China is doing is exactly what the East India company and British Raj did to India's industries in the 18th and 19th centuries - "shut down the native industries that produce finished products, like Muslin, Tin / copper and iron tools and vessels. Buy India's raw materials at a cheap rate, finish them in the United Kingdom and export the products to Indian market - make plenty of monies, what are colonies for ?""" !!! The most sophisticated products Stan can sell China will be Cricket bats and copied AK-47s, may be some 'suicide belts' that Uighur Muslims of China can buy ....
                  Reply
                  1. C
                    Curious onlooker
                    May 14, 2017 at 11:44 am
                    You know fat lots about what British Raj did. After seventy years of independence and self governance what could India offer the world? Nothing except un-employable human parasites to feed on rest of world resources !
                    Reply
                  2. G
                    ginololoya
                    May 14, 2017 at 9:52 am
                    Yes. INDIA MUST NOT COMPROMISE ON ITS TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY AND NOT SUC B ITSELF TO FOREIGN EN IES UTILIZING ITS LAND FOR BENE ING THE OTHERS WITHOUT OR IGNORING WHO THE LAND BELONGS TO. First must come the surrendering of G-Baltistan to India, then comes surrendering PoK to India, then we should talk.
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                    1. M
                      Murthy
                      May 14, 2017 at 9:43 am
                      China's Rulers have always thought up "G Schemes", like the "Great Wall of China", which did not prevent the Mongol and Manchu subjugation of China, soon after the Wall was completed. The latest is only a Paper Scheme hyped by the Western Media. Pak. Media, their country being a colony of China, has hyped it as expected. BUT the rate of interest China charges will become a HUGE burden on stan and other colonies of China. The benefits for them will become less and less, because they are not producing enough to sell to China.
                      Reply
                      1. V
                        vijay
                        May 14, 2017 at 9:40 am
                        Instead of rejecting out right India should have went along with it while keeping it's own counsel. Unlike they blocked our entree in to NSG, we could not have blocked this project. Secondly even if we have given a tacit approval the chines would have been morally obligated to reciprocate the good will.Which could have got us in to NSG stead, we shut the door firmly on their face which would rile them,no doubt. Some body in the external affairs for got that diplomacy and life in general is based on trade of that is you give some thing to get something. Then again, there may be a lot that meet the eyes here and I may be talking through my hat.
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                        1. G
                          ginololoya
                          May 14, 2017 at 9:54 am
                          Sorry. It does not work that way
                          Reply
                        2. V
                          Vincent Chin
                          May 14, 2017 at 9:29 am
                          This is really a bad move by India. What does it prove? That the w of Kashmir belongs to India more than ever? India is cutting its nose to spite the face. It has already made it clear a thousand times before but offered no solutions for 70 years. Does it expect the world to wait while India holds them ransom for eternity? In that span, the Karakoram highway was built without any violent objection. This is nothing but a display of selfishness, greed and chest-thumping. An embarrassing moment for India in historic proportions in my opinion.
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                          1. G
                            ginololoya
                            May 14, 2017 at 9:54 am
                            India is right in boycotting
                            Reply
                            1. V
                              Vincent Chin
                              May 14, 2017 at 10:08 am
                              You probably belong to the India-has-been-wrong-for-70-years-under-Congress-Party-and-is-finally-getting-it-right clan. LOL
                              1. A
                                ab nair
                                May 14, 2017 at 10:31 am
                                It is a bad movie by China. First you illegally occupy Tibet. Then you illegally occupy Indian region. You fight a proxy war with India through stan. In its entire history India has never been an aggressor. That is the why even after 70 years there is no solution. I pity you. You are belieiving the false propa a of your government. Reply I Ilyas
                              2. A
                                ab nair
                                May 14, 2017 at 10:30 am
                                It is a bad movie by China. First you illegally occupy Tibet. Then you illegally occupy Indian region. You fight a proxy war with India through stan. In its entire history India has never been an aggressor. That is the why even after 70 years there is no solution. I pity you. You are belieiving the false propa a of your government.
                                Reply
                                1. V
                                  Vincent Chin
                                  May 14, 2017 at 11:45 am
                                  Why you pity us? Maybe 50 years ago yes. But today, we are experiencing improvements in the quality of our lives every year. It is a challenging struggle but we will never give up and will always stay positive. Why be negative and have evil thoughts for others?
                              3. I
                                Ilyas
                                May 14, 2017 at 9:19 am
                                China is a ruthless, killer of the followers of Falcun gong, who practice meditation for good health and overall well being. The Communist Chinese rulers were so scared of its popularity that they b ed it a heretical cult, and banned it. As is the dictators revenge practices, the dictators who were shown that Falcun Gong has more followers than Communist Party's membership, took to cruel kil and harvesting of organs of the followers of Falcun Gong. Criminal Chinas shall be isolated by the West and steps taken to instigate a cultural and political revolution in China
                                Reply
                                1. V
                                  Vishnu
                                  May 14, 2017 at 9:13 am
                                  The fact that China has blocked India at several occasions. Be it at NSG, be it at UNSC for blocking stan based terrorists. And now when they have a desire how can they expect India to cooperate. It's naive on part of these Chinese scholars and the Chinese establishment to think that diplomacy is a one way bridge. Moreover, China has said that India can join OBOR at a later stage. India has smartly chosen a wait and watch approach. Sri Lanka a country that has been helped by Chinese investments is now in $8 billion debt. The interest rates charged by the Chinese lenders are more than what world bank and IMF charges. Makes one wonder what the actual Chinese g strategy is. May be this time its not "divide and rule" but "choke with debt and rule"
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                                  1. V
                                    vijay
                                    May 14, 2017 at 9:59 am
                                    Reacting by giving for tats is reserved for ordinary humans like you and me while dea with our friends. In national level things are negotiated not based on charged emotions but cool heads. The only principle that drives a decision or a negotiation is "what is it in for us in the long terms" while keeping our counsel. You and I will not be able to do this but our diplomats can and that is why they get the fat ries and perks. I think they fell short in this instance by loosing the potential good will.
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                                    1. V
                                      vijay
                                      May 14, 2017 at 10:00 am
                                      please read s for tats.
                                      1. V
                                        Vishnu
                                        May 14, 2017 at 11:17 am
                                        What help did China do to India so that they deserve India's good will? Please elaborate this Vijay. Good will was shown from India when Xi was invited by Modi to India. Remember the historic pics of Xi and Modi sitting side by side. At the same time when that was happening, Chinese troops infiltrated Indian borders. Do you remember that. Do you think that move was without the approval of China's establishment? Yes, Indeed international diplomacy is give and take. Give me an example to prove your point rather than just words.. You need to see the past as well to predict the future. Just jumping overboard because everyone is doing that suits sheep and goats. You need to be a wolf to deal with China.
                                        1. V
                                          Vishnu
                                          May 14, 2017 at 11:27 am
                                          The same mentality towards China that you have was shows during the "hindi chini bhai bhai phase". It would be dumb to forget history and not learn from the past mistakes. Same applies to individuals as well as nations.
                                      2. D
                                        Devendra Mohanty
                                        May 14, 2017 at 9:08 am
                                        USA and an which has a territorial issue with China are parti ting among others. Is India getting isolated.
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                                        1. C
                                          Chicku
                                          May 14, 2017 at 9:45 am
                                          US, UK etc are not parti ting in the projects. They are there to observe and learn. The West is more skeptical of this than India is.
                                          Reply
                                        2. S
                                          SP
                                          May 14, 2017 at 9:00 am
                                          Expecting universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality, from Hahn Chinese is like expecting Sun to rise in west. Chinese are known to be selfish and one CAN NEVER TRUST them. Q: HAS ANY ONE MET A GOOD AND HONEST CHINESE?????
                                          Reply
                                          1. V
                                            vijay
                                            May 14, 2017 at 10:27 am
                                            Have you driven in delhi or in any of our metros lately?Or have you read the latest supreme court instructions? Have you met Gaekwad sab in one of his bad days?Do you watch the expose after expose of frau.sd and scams on television? have you ever tried to board a public transport at peak hour lately? That will answer your question about the good and honest Indian. It is rarer than a hens hind teeth.
                                            Reply
                                            1. V
                                              Vishnu
                                              May 14, 2017 at 11:37 am
                                              Flaws are there in every country. One should learn from it and change what is done wrong, rather than sit and complain. Gaikward incident happened. Now there are new set rules for unruly passengers. That's a change. Appreciate it. Don't just comment only on one side of the picture and put pointless arguments. Appreciate the fact that you live in a country in which you can at least stay the bulldozing of your building to lay down new infrastructure unlike in China.
                                              1. V
                                                Vishnu
                                                May 14, 2017 at 11:39 am
                                                Flaws are there in every country. One should learn from it and change what is done wrong, rather than sit and complain. Gaikward incident happened. Now there are new set rules for unruly passengers. That's a change. Appreciate it. Don't just comment only on one side of the picture and put pointless arguments. Appreciate the fact that you live in a country in which you can at least stay the bulldozing of your building to lay down new infrastructure unlike in China.
                                            2. R
                                              ramesh ahuja
                                              May 14, 2017 at 8:57 am
                                              CPEC could be disaster for world community, this is plan by China to make CHINESE part extended country. First they pump money than make you highly indebted than than forcefully takeover for non payment. EAST INDIA company plans.God bless for those turning blind
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                                              1. L
                                                leo
                                                May 14, 2017 at 8:38 am
                                                This project is domed up from the start this will put the countries into more debt and force them to sell their strategic ets recently it has happened with srilanka it will happen with more countries who are going gungho over this project. This project is bound to drill on the finances of small nations and put them debit trap.
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                                                1. S
                                                  sochee
                                                  May 14, 2017 at 8:29 am
                                                  In a way CPEC is a blessing in disguise for India .It will stop jihad is there. But it is going to impact Russia more than anyone else. If Russia is denied share of its pie CPEC is a potential disaster waiting to happen such a scenario abstaining from China's conference is a wise move.
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                                                  1. S
                                                    Sreesheel Sreekumar
                                                    May 14, 2017 at 8:28 am
                                                    The CPEC is being built solely because China wants access to the Arabian Sea. It would use the corridor to export goods from Xingjiang which at the moment is being done via Kazakhstan ! Access to the Arabian sea would give China a strategic plus. It is not only that, the passage of the highway through POK would legalise POK as being an integral part of Porkistan ! As stated already by many here China is trying to build a coalition by exploiting the economic backwardness of these countries ! India should stay away from it and state in strong words its displeasure over the corridor passing through a territory which legally belongs to India !
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                                                    1. N
                                                      NA
                                                      May 14, 2017 at 8:21 am
                                                      World has been watching WHAT THE FK INDIA'S "international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality.".................IF YOU INDIOTS CAN, PLEASE SHUT YOUR STUPID MOUTH AND DON'T RELEASE SUCH HORRIBLE STATEMENTS. NOT A SINGLE INDIAN WILL HESITATE TO BE ASHAMED AT YOUR STUPID STATEMENTS.
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                                                      1. S
                                                        sochee
                                                        May 14, 2017 at 8:16 am
                                                        It is good for us Hindus in India. Remember that Afghanistan and present day stan had been predominantly Buddhist who were over run by Islamic hordes. Whatever valiant efforts the Hindu rajahs of the area made to fight these Islamists were sabotaged by the Buddhists. As a result it was possible for these invaders to establish Islamic rule in these areas and to convert the population of the area at the point of the sword. Now communist China is taking over this area under it's expansion plan. It is necessary for China to expand like this because it's economy is like a big ponzy scheme. stan has not learnt from the experience of Srilanka which had allowed China to develop her ports and are now facing the consequences. As and when China takes over the area under CPEC it will have to sterilise the area of toxic Islam propagated by Saudis through their nuclear slave stan. That will roll back Saudi influence and free India from the threat of Islamic terrorism and jihad .
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                                                          lafanga
                                                          May 14, 2017 at 7:32 pm
                                                          India was a caste based backwater cesspool before Muslims arrived and put it on the world map. The language, culture, architecture, food even Bollywood is courtesy of the so called Muslim invaders. Then the British came and built the railway and roads. Take out the 1000 year Muslim rule and 300 years of British intervention and Indians will still be walking around in chaddis.
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