Benefits will eventually bring India into BRI

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/3/27 20:03:16

Italy's endorsement of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) hasn't had much impact on Indian officials, who have long objected to the initiative, as media reports said the South Asian country signaled it might boycott the upcoming second Belt and Road Forum, to be held in Beijing.

A suicide attack took place in Pulwama last month, which fueled anti-Chinese sentiment in India, as locals felt dissatisfied with China's decision to delay a bid at the UN to blacklist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed's leader as a terrorist. 

If Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces to visit China to attend the forum in coming weeks, misguided public opinion may put great pressure on him during the upcoming general election that will begin on April 11

Blaming the BRI for ignoring India's core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity is simply a lazy excuse for India's growing nationalist sentiment following the suicide attack. 

As Modi campaigns for another term in office, a boycott of the forum is a chance to show a tough stance against China, and thus help him win voters' hearts by catering to nationalist sentiment.

The upcoming forum is expected to be attended by people from more than 100 countries and regions. It doesn't matter to China if the forum lacks one or two participants. 

However, India will miss an opportunity to discuss controversial topics and enhance its economic cooperation with other attendees, many from countries and regions that are important economic partners for India, if the country boycotts the forum. India's economy will be the ultimate victim in this situation.

As Indian people focus their attention on various political and social issues, the Indian economy appears to have been losing momentum. Not enough jobs are being created in the populous nation, creating an unemployment problem that further stirs up nationalist sentiment as well as anti-Chinese sentiment. 

Making decisions from an economic instead of political perspective will help India escape the vicious circle and solve its employment problem. If attending the Belt and Road Forum is conducive to India's economic growth, it will indeed be an unwise decision to boycott the opportunity.

India still has time to decide to join the forum in April, but it should be noticed that the meeting is a cooperation platform, rather than a place for India to express its dissatisfaction about Pakistan and resolve bilateral disputes through the BRI.

Although India hasn't joined the BRI, the country has become the largest borrower from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that has been seen as a key supporter for BRI projects. 

Even if India boycotts the second BRI forum, there will be no need to worry. The huge dividends India enjoys from the AIIB and some BRI projects will eventually push the country to embrace the initiative in the future.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: EYE ON ECONOMY

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