In the last 4-5 days, Chinese official media, as well as the country’s diplomats, have been critical of India’s decision not to attend the first Belt and Road Initiative (previously known as One Belt, One Road, or OBOR) summit that concluded in Beijing on Monday. India boycotted the summit because of its sovereignty concerns with CPEC, which is the flagship OBOR project covering Pakistan-occupied Kasmir, an Indian territory.
Chinese media and officials have indirectly urged India to reconsider its decision not to join the Belt and Road project. An editorial in Chinese official daily Global Times on Monday said that India’s refusal to join BRI summit was “regrettable”. On the same day, China dismissed India’s concerns over the Belt and Road initiative.
“All countries should respect each other’s sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity, each other’s development paths and social systems, and each other’s cores interests and major concerns.
“Regarding the issue of Kashmir which the Indian side is concerned about, we have been stressing that the issue was left over from history between India and Pakistan, and should be properly addressed by the two sides through consultation and negotiation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry told PTI. On Tuesday, the Chinese media urged India to look beyond its rift with China.
Responding to India’s official statement that China had not carried out a “meaningful dialogue” over its concerns against the CPEC, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Tuesday said India was welcome to join the project and asked it to explain what New Delhi meant by “meaningful dialogue.”
These statements try to show that China is really not interested in Kashmir dispute and the country would be happy taking India on board OBOR. The country even gives a naive explanation about the future ramifications of the project, saying it is simply a connectivity project for trade and economic prosperity.
But policymakers in Beijing must know that they can’t say they are not interested in Kashmir issue and yet go on covering the entire disputed territory and aiding Pakistan so that the latter can continue with its anti-India objectives. Without addressing India’s concerns in the CPEC, China has not only challenged India’s claim on PoK but also unofficially become a partner-in-crime with Pakistan, for the latter’s terror activities against India.
While CPEC may become a new point of contention between China and India, there are several other issues for which Beijing has officially snubbed New Delhi for long. China is the biggest impediment to India’s long-standing goal to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Not only this, in an apparent bid to keep Pakistan happy, Beijing has also thwarted India’s attempts to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar declared as a UN-designated terrorist on several occasions. Notwithstanding Chinese claims, it is apparent that China is using Pakistan as a prop against India with CPEC and it can’t expect New Delhi not to see what is obvious.
An editorial in the Dawn criticising India’s decision not to join Belt and Road initiative says, “All historic opportunities come with an element of risk…If engaged with sensibly and pragmatically, OBOR could help all of China’s trading partners and regional neighbours, big and small, realise collective gains. That makes India’s decision to boycott the OBOR summit all the more puzzling.”
True, everything comes with an element of risk. But, should India risk its sovereignty and turn a blind eye towards Pakistan-sponsored terrorism on Indian territory to join CPEC for “regional prosperity”? Shouldn’t Pakistan first honestly try ending terror groups operating from its territory against India and see New Delhi as a friendly ally?
No partnership between two proud nations is possible if it is not based on the principle of mutual respect for each other’s ambitions and needs. It takes a lot of confidence-building measures to build great partnerships. As the more powerful and bigger country, China can do so simply by allowing India NSG entry and helping in ending Pakistan-based terrorists working against New Delhi.