Thursday, 20 September, 2018

India to skip China's new Silk Road forum

Kenny Thornton | 14 May, 2017, 13:54

In his address to the United Services Institution in New Delhi on May 5, Chinese Ambassador Luo Zhaohui had said China has taken care to India's stand that it should be resolved bilaterally in line with the Shimla Agreement.

"We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised worldwide norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality", Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in a press conference yesterday.

The deals came as Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the Beijing summit expected to be attended by leaders from at least 29 countries to promote Xi's vision of expanding trade links.

Countries like the US, Japan, South Korea and France have chose to send official representations for the meet.

"All countries should respect each other's sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity, each other's development paths and social systems, and each other's core interests and major concerns", Xi said. But governments including Russian Federation, the United States and India are uneasy that China is using its status as the second-largest global economy to expand its political influence. But the distance is not the obstacle for our country to attend the Belt and Road Initiative.

The meeting took place as Sharif is in Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Forum, which India appears likely to skip in opposition to the CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

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He said economic development in Balochistan province, where China is building Gwadar port, was getting good results and several projects under CPEC were being completed at a fast pace.

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, " Indian position read.

China, too, protested India's decision to permit the Dalai Lama last month to visit Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims as South Tibet. CPEC has geo-strategic implications for India.

Sam Beatson, a researcher with the King's College London, said China has not shown itself to be a colonial power, unlike the British Empire that once asserted control over parts of Malaysia. We will be two largest economies of the world by 2030.

But India is not attending the high-profile B&R summit. "It might work for smaller countries, but for India it is a hard proposition", Kantha added. "Only by respecting the sovereignty of countries involved can regional connectivity corridors fulfill their promise and avoid differences and discord".

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