Participating in Belt and Road will benefit India: Chinese official

This November 13, 2016 photo shows a general view of the old port in Gwadar, Pakistan. Gwadar is the cornerstone of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s so-called One Belt, One Road project and a Chinese official has said India too should take part in the initiative for its own benefit, rather than allow counter-terror differences to cloud the ties.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

China on Saturday invited India to consider the “larger picture” of ties, focusing on opportunities that New Delhi can avail by participating in the Beijing-led Belt and Road connectivity initiative, and not allowing specific differences on counter-terrorism to cloud the growing relationship.

In response to questions, a day ahead of the session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Sunday, spokesperson Fu Ying said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was not a political but an economic project from which India could benefit.

‘Look at the larger picture’

“The Belt and Road is a connectivity programme for economic development and will also benefit India,” Ms. Fu said. “So we need to bear in mind the larger picture.”

In India, there are apprehensions that BRI has geopolitical overtones, highlighted by the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — a part of the BRI — which passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

China is seeking a high-level Indian participation in the BRI summit that it is hosting in May.

But last month Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, who was in Beijing leading the Indian delegation for a strategic dialogue with China, raised India’s concerns regarding the CPEC within the ambit of the BRI. “The issue is not about connectivity per se,” observed Mr. Jaishankar. “The fact is CPEC is part of this particular initiative and CPEC violates Indian sovereignty because it runs through PoK.”

Ties must move forward

Ms. Fu did not respond directly to a query regarding the China’s widely perceived role in the United Nations of hindering sanctions on Masood Azhar, the head of the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad group. But she stressed that the momentum of a further improvement of Beijing-New Delhi ties should not be stalled. “We cannot allow issues that cannot be worked out for the moment to stop us from moving forward,” she observed.

Nevertheless, Ms. Fu, a former Vice-Foreign Minister, pointed out that it was natural to have differences, but India and China “need to be more sensitive to each other's concerns, so we can better address them.”

She highlighted that economic ties between the two countries had improved rapidly, and trade, which stood at a paltry $2 billion in the later 1990s, now exceeded $70 billion.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 9:00:05 PM |

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