Regional connectivity projects can support India’s ambitions

By Liu Jianxi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/7 23:28:39

India's Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has called for an increased defense budget and insists the country should look for new allies to deal with its neighbors along the northern and western borders, according to the Press Trust of India. Apparently, Rawat is referring to China and Pakistan. New Delhi is prepared for "a two-front war" involving Beijing and Islamabad simultaneously, Rawat told channel NewsX early this year.

India is viewing Beijing and Islamabad as potential threats and is suspicious of Beijing's One Belt and One Road initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Earlier, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar accused the CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, of violating India's sovereignty.

New Delhi worries that Beijing is intentionally meddling in India-Pakistan disputes, utilizing the CPEC to grant legitimacy to Islamabad's control over the disputed region.

India is exaggerating the situation. Beijing respects New Delhi's sovereignty concerns, and is willing to mediate in India-Pakistan disputes, on the condition that it accords to the wishes of both India and Pakistan. China's Belt and Road initiative aims to promote an inclusive global economy by enhancing regional connectivity and building cohesive trade networks, and does not target any third party.

Rawat also claimed that India must have intimate ties with Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, and should attempt to thwart China's "westward movement" with the aid of these countries. China advocates peaceful development. It has and will never seek hegemony in the region. China's defense budget will rise by about 7 percent this year, the lowest since 2010.

Beijing's military development is part of its national construction, and New Delhi should not overly interpret it.

The Indian media suggests that China's military expenditure for 2017, about 1.3 percent of GDP, is three times higher than that of India. Frankly speaking, even if New Delhi's military spending is boosted to the same level, India still lags behind its northern neighbor in its military capability. For instance, India's development of aircraft carrier is very slow despite its early start.

Instead of being overly concerned about China's rise, New Delhi should consider taking an early role in Beijing's Belt and Road initiative. China's infrastructural initiative will not only bring economic benefits, but also fulfill India's ambition to be an influential economic power in the region. It is hoped the Indian government will abandon its suspicions and adopt an open and pragmatic attitude toward China's and Pakistan's development.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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