China today said India should shed its reservations over President Xi Jinping’s ambitious ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and join the project as it will not change Beijing’s stand on the Kashmir issue. The BRI, which includes China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has been included in the Constitution of the ruling Communist Party of China in the just concluded once-in-a- five-year Congress. “We welcome other countries including India to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on the basis of voluntarism,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media briefing here today. The BRI’s goal is to promote connectivity between regional countries and common prosperity of all countries, the spokesman said. “The initiative will not affect China’s position on relevant issues and our position on relevant initiatives will not be changed,” he said.
China has been reiterating that the $50 billion CPEC which traverses though the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is a connectivity project and will not affect its stand that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan through talks. India has objected to the CPEC as it is being laid through the disputed territory and boycotted a high-profile Belt and Road Forum organised by China in May.
The BRI will bring tangible benefits to those who are participating in the project at an early date, Geng said. BRI has been included in the CPC Constitution as part of President Xi’s ideological thought putting more pressure on Chinese officials to work for early harvest from the massive amount of investment being poured by China in Pakistan and other countries. According to a senior CPC official, the Chinese firms so far have invested $560 billion overseas under the BRI since 2013 and paid over $100 billion in taxes and created millions of jobs.