India today skipped the opening ceremony of China’s Belt and Road Forum following sovereignty concerns over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). No Indian delegation was seen at the opening ceremony addressed by Chinese President, Xi Jinping. When inquired, Indian diplomats here pointed to the statement issued by MEA spokesperson Gopal Bagley last night.
“…No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
Few Indian scholars attended the meeting. Media was not permitted into the conference hall, where the opening ceremony took place. Indian scholars who took part in the meeting said no Indian delegation was spotted.
The meeting called the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) is being attended by 29 heads of state and governments including Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickrmasinghe, besides official delegations from other South Asian countries. Leaders and officials from various countries including Russia, US, Japan, UK, Germany and France are attending the meeting.
In a strongly-worded statement issued last night, India had said that 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 had said in a statement.