India is boycotting China’s Belt and Road Forum (BRF) beginning in Beijing tomorrow, a clear indication of that came from an official statement issued tonight which said India cannot accept a project that ignores its core concern on sovereignty and territorial integrity. India has strong reservation over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of the connectivity initiative that is expected to figure prominently in the two- day meet. In a strongly-worded statement issued hours before the opening of the forum in the Chinese capital, India said the connectivity initiative must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative, ‘One Belt, One Road’ which was later renamed as ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. We are awaiting a positive response from the Chinese side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in a statement.
“Regarding the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’, which is being projected as the flagship project of the BRI/OBOR, the international community is well aware of India’s position. No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
Noting that India has received a formal invitation to participate in the six separate forums that China is organising as part of the Belt and Road Forum being held in Beijing on May 14-16, he said India is of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality.
“Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities,” he said.
Indian officials maintain that New Delhi has objections related only to the CPEC traversing through Gilgit and Baltistan of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). India treats the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir as its integral part.