China, which hosted the Belt and Road Forum has seen resistance from a powerful neighbour – India.
India’s stance on the ongoing One Belt One Road (OBOR) project, which it has displayed animosity towards, became clear on Sunday, with the country expressly stating intent to stay away from the multilateral project. With numerous heads of states and delegations of countries present at the high profile event of the Belt and Road Forum (BRF), China’s vision to pursue the OBOR project has, however, been met with stiff opposition from its neighbour, citing territorial integrity among other concerns.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, has spearheaded the OBOR project, which is looking at creating a complex of roads, shipping lanes and railway tracks to connect Asia, Europe, and Africa. The two-day forum for this project has seen attendance from heads of states of 29 countries and officials from over 100 countries. With Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking at the event, China announced it’s whopping USD 124 bn contribution to the Silk Road Fund, which was set up in 2014 to finance infrastructure projects.
“We should jointly create an environment that will facilitate opening up and development, establish a fair, equitable and transparent system of international trade and investment rules,” Jinping said.
Now US and Japan too joining OBOR conference in Beijing on 15 May. 110 nations participating & India looks totally isolated!
— M K Venu (@mkvenu1) May 13, 2017
The ambitious OBOR project now has all south Asian countries onboard with the exception of India and Bhutan. India’s objection to the project has been based on several allegations, with its primary opposition to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Foreign Ministry of India issued a statement, “We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality.” He added, “Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The point on sovereignty was in reference to the CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a contested region between India and Pakistan.
Map of various multi-billion-dollar projects along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor , a key part of China’s OBOR Initiative; pic.twitter.com/vEizptHaJo
— One Belt One Road (@OBORCHINA) May 9, 2017
Indo-China relations sour
The recent no-show by India at the belt and road forum has only worsened relations between India and China. Recent interactions and exchanges between the two countries have revealed that the major Asian powers are increasingly growing cold. The Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh in north-eastern India in the month of April was among the most recent events that ticked off the wrong boxes on the Chinese side.
India’s continued support to the Tibetan people and Dalai Lama’s visit preceded the ongoing tiff over the CPEC and OBOR project. While India missed the forum, many have stated this as India’s loss in a first-of-its-kind multilateral project that is projected to have significant impact.