With India yet to confirm its participation in the Silk Road summit to be held here, an article in a state-run Chinese daily has said that by skipping the high-profile meeting the country could miss out on a slew of benefits for its domestic economic development.
“India, the South Asian giant, is noticeably missing from the list of guests. That’s not because India was not invited, but because it has been reluctant to join the initiative,” the article in the Global Times said. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media here today that “as far as India’s participation is concerned, some Indian scholars have registered to attend the high-level meeting during the belt and road forum. As the host country, China will warmly welcome all the participants including the scholars from India.”
Twenty-eight heads of state and government including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are scheduled to take part in the summit to be held here from May 14-15. India, which has already protested over the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as it goes passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, so far has not confirmed its participation.
“By skipping the summit and maintaining its wary stance on the initiative — which has drawn interest from more than 60 countries and is expected to reshape economic and trade relations in the Eurasian region — India could miss a slew of benefits for its domestic economic development as well as an opportunity to take part in the reshaping process,” Chinese officials and experts were quoted as saying. They, however, said the door was “still open for India”.
“India still appears to be reluctant to join the initiative, mostly because of political reasons. Some people in India think that the CPEC, a key element of the Belt and Road that passes through the Kashmir region claimed by both India and Pakistan, is a threat for its sovereignty issues, while others are worried that China wants to dominate trade in the region,” the article said.
The Belt and Road initiative could help India address several pressing economic issues, including imbalanced trade with China and the need to find new markets for its growing manufacturing sector throughout South Asia and beyond, Wang Jun, an expert at the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, was quoted as saying.
India’s trade deficit with China, which has climbed to USD 52 billion “could definitely be solved through cooperation under the Belt and Road initiative,” he said.
“Through the Belt and Road, China can help India produce goods that are needed in the Chinese market and both sides can work on further expanding market openness,” Wang said. More broadly, the Belt and Road initiative could open a larger market for Indian businesses, he said.