Iranian port of Chabahar could be model for China-India collaboration

By Liu Lulu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/19 22:33:39

Despite pledges that it's not aimed at "strangulating" or "encircling" anybody, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif's offer to Pakistan and China to participate in construction of the port of Chabahar triggered strong repercussions among Indian media outlets.

New Delhi has been advocating its Act East policy, and meanwhile endeavoring to expand and deepen ties with Central Asian countries in recent years. Given the geostrategic significance of the project that opens a new route connecting India, Iran and Afghanistan and in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi, the Indian media's concerns are understandable.

However, Tehran's invitation to Beijing and Islamabad isn't meant to rule out the possibility of Sino-Indian collaboration on the project. In this era of globalization, India's future cooperation with regional countries will inevitably overlap with China's, creating cooperative opportunities for the two countries.

Beijing and New Delhi complement each other in various fields. To begin with, India has abundant experience in collaborating with Iran on port construction. The first phase of Chabahar Port, inaugurated in December, is being developed by India. In February this year, New Delhi and Tehran signed a pact that gives the former operational control of a part of the port for 18 months. China can draw experience from India in this regard.

But the results of India-Iran cooperation proved less fruitful than expected as a result of Western sanctions, according to media reports. In this context, China is one of a handful of countries that has continued trade links with Tehran and is its largest oil client. China and India can complement each other on Chabahar Port construction.

In addition, Gwadar Port in Pakistan, a flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, lies barely 100 kilometers from Chabahar. Given the extreme proximity of the two ports, stakeholders can share resources in the development of the two projects.

Instead of viewing each other as rivals, Beijing and New Delhi can choose to collaborate for mutual benefits. After all, a zero-sum mentality has long since been outdated and cooperation is the major theme of the 21st century.

China's Belt and Road initiative aims to create a platform for multilateral cooperation. It's not targeted at any third party, and multiple winners are what China pursues. India can choose not to join China's Belt and Road initiative, but the two countries have many cooperative opportunities on third-party projects. It is to be hoped that Chabahar Port offers a model for Sino-Indian collaboration.

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