Echoing India’s concerns on China’s One Belt One Road initiative, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells said the United States shares India’s apprehensions over projects that lead to a country ceding sovereignty.
India has been “crystal clear from the outset they saw the geopolitical elements of the One Belt One Road,” Wells was quoted as saying in response to a question at Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars think tank.
“We share India’s concerns over projects that don’t have any economic basis and that leads to country ceding sovereignty,” she added.
Sri Lanka is not the only country that effectively ceded sovereignty over a key asset, she added. Struggling with debts, Sri Lanka has formally handed over the southern seaport of Hambantota to China in 2017 on a 99-year lease.
Wells also talked about the construction of Gwadar port in Pakistan. Wells said it feeds into Indian anxiety because the commercial basis of the project is not clear.
“This has been a project very long in the making and not very evident to outsiders what’s the economic rationale that drives it,” she was quoted as saying in response to a question.
Touted as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious project, the One Belt One Road initiative focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among Asian countries, Africa, China, and Europe. The emphasis is on enhancing land as well as maritime routes. The policy is significant for China since it aims to boost domestic growth in the country.
The main reason behind India’s opposition towards the policy is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a part of OBOR.