New Delhi could benefit by adopting open attitude to Belt and Road initiative

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2017/3/20 0:23:39

The UN Security Council recently called for further efforts to enhance regional economic cooperation, including the development of the One Belt and One Road (OBOR) initiative. Given that the initiative "has a flagship project passing through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK)," the Indian Hindustan Times said in a report, "the UN endorsing the OBOR could complicate the situation."

New Delhi has yet to sign up for the OBOR, and has claimed that there is a sovereignty issue with the Belt and Road initiative as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through PoK, according to media reports. However, despite concerns from India, broader support has been given to the OBOR from the international community. China will host the first OBOR summit in May, with more than 20 government leaders and more than 50 heads of international organizations set to congregate in Beijing for the meeting.

It should also be noted that New Delhi cannot prevent the growth of the OBOR's influence. If India wants to exclude itself from the OBOR at a time when the initiative is receiving widespread support from the global community, India will end up simply watching the rise of China's international reputation.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, James Woolsey, former CIA director, called the Obama administration's opposition to the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) a "strategic mistake." It is hoped that India could learn a lesson from the US and adopt a more pragmatic attitude toward the OBOR.

If New Delhi is unable to persuade other nations to abandon the OBOR, one practical approach is to get involved in the initiative in a bid to promote the development of the OBOR in a direction that is favorable to India.

China and India share a large potential for cooperation in areas such as infrastructure. If New Delhi has concerns about the CPEC as a flagship project in the OBOR, India's joining the initiative could cement its economic ties with China and possibly shift the initiative's center of gravity.

As more countries and international organizations welcome the OBOR and see joining it as an opportunity to promote economic growth, India should handle the OBOR issue more carefully. The dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan makes New Delhi habitually vigilant against any possibility of large-scale foreign investment flowing into the region, but it is necessary to learn to distinguish activities between normal commercial investment and ones that could violate India's sovereignty.

Both the OBOR and the CPEC are economic initiatives. Hopefully India will wake up to the benefits and adopt an open attitude toward joining the initiatives.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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