China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) infrastructure plan was receiving “broad global support” despite India’s objections to the plan, Chinese state media said on Monday.,
This came after China’s diplomats on Friday hailed a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution which for the first time mentioned the OBOR, which envisages a land-economic belt to South and Central Asia and Europe, and a maritime “silk road” to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.
India isn’t among the countries that have backed the plan, as a key flagship project of the OBOR is an economic corridor through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). China is hosting the first OBOR summit in Beijing in May, with 20 global leaders and representatives from 50 countries and international organisations expected. India hasn’t yet decided on its representation at the summit.
‘WATCHING THE RISE OF CHINA’
Indian officials have repeatedly expressed concerns to China about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) violating its sovereignty in PoK, which is Indian territory. China has similarly objected to economic exploration projects in the South China Sea, for instance between India and Vietnam.
CPEC was initiated more than a year before President Xi Jinping unveiled the OBOR plan in 2013. China made the decision to include the CPEC as a flagship corridor under the OBOR rather than carry it forward as a separate project, essentially closing the door to any Indian involvement in OBOR.
“New Delhi cannot prevent the growth of the OBOR’s influence,” the Global Times, a Communist Party-run tabloid published by the official People’s Daily, said in a commentary on Monday. “If India wants to exclude itself from the OBOR at a time when the initiative is receiving widespread support from the global community, India will end up simply watching the rise of China’s international reputation.”
CREATING A FAVOURABLE ATMOSPHERE FOR CHINA
The paper said that “despite concerns from India, broader support has been given to the OBOR from the international community”.
As the UNSC on Friday adopted a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) by one year, the text called on countries to “strengthen the process of regional economic cooperation, including measures to facilitate regional connectivity, trade and transit, including through regional development initiatives such as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road) Initiative”.
Chinese diplomats have portrayed the reference as a diplomatic victory of sorts, with Liu Jieyi, the Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations, saying it showed “the consensus of the international community on embracing the concept, and manifesting huge Chinese contributions to the global governance”.
Liu said the move would be “conducive to creating a favourable atmosphere for China to host a Belt and Road forum for international cooperation in Beijing this May in order to brainstorm on interconnected development.”
BEIJING WANTS DELHI TO ADOPT AN OPEN ATTITUDE
The Global Times said if “Delhi has concerns about the CPEC as a flagship project in the OBOR, India’s joining the initiative could cement its economic ties with China and possibly shift the initiative’s center of gravity.”
“The dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan makes New Delhi habitually vigilant against any possibility of large-scale foreign investment flowing into the region, but it is necessary to learn to distinguish activities between normal commercial investment and ones that could violate India’s sovereignty. Both the OBOR and the CPEC are economic initiatives. Hopefully India will wake up to the benefits and adopt an open attitude toward joining the initiatives.”
CPEC A VIOLATION OF SOVEREIGNTY, SAYS INDIA
India, however has disregarded China’s argument of the CPEC being “purely economic” and pointed out that China has on numerous instances objected to economic projects in the South China Sea, for instance when India and Vietnam took forward exploration projects.
Stressing that India was a “pro-connectivity country” with a number of regional connectivity projects, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar conveyed to China at the February 22 strategic dialogue in Beijing that it was a fact that the CPEC “violates Indian sovereignty because it runs through PoK”.
“The issue is not about connectivity per se,” Jaishankar said. “The fact is CPEC is part of this particular initiative and CPEC violates Indian sovereignty because it runs through PoK. Therefore, since they are a country very sensitive to sovereignty concerns it was for them to see how a country whose sovereignty has been violated can come on an invitation. We would like to see what proposals anybody has in that regard,” Jaishankar said