India’s absence from a China- initiated regional connectivity and infrastructure forum from May 14 will not be “constructive” for bilateral ties, a senior Chinese official said today. India has told us that it has not taken any decision on who will attend the two-day ‘The Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) forum to be held in China, he said.
The official said China has more differences with Japan as compared to India but the Japanese government has confirmed its participation unlike the Indian government. “India’s absence will leave some feeling which will not be constructive,” he said.
If the concerns of sovereignty over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor were an issue, it could have been discussed, the official said, holding that the Indian side was given a proper briefing on the Chinese initiative.
India has raised sovereignty issues over the CPEC, which runs through the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), and is part of the BRI, the official name of the silk road initiative.
The official also asserted that despite differences over some issues, China always attends India-hosted meets like ‘Heart of Asia’.
Under the BRI, which has three major components — infrastructure, trade and investment, and industrial capacity cooperation- a series of infrastructure projects will be launched across Asia, Europe and Africa.
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According to the Chinese side, top leaders of 28 countries including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi have confirmed their participation.
Asked about China’s position on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and whether it will go ahead without India, the official said there was a need for “strategic thinking” on part of India, and indicated that some Indian concerns over the pact were “negotiable”. The official also suggested that China will not leave anyone out of the pact.
The RCEP is a 16-nation trade pact that includes the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), along with China, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, a region that accounts for 46 per cent of the world’s population and that produced nearly 30 per cent of global GDP in 2016.