China keen to invite India to OBOR conclave

New Delhi wary about support to connectivity initiative

China keen to invite India to OBOR conclave

China is keen to invite India to a multinational conclave it is planning to hold this year to drum up support for its One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) initiative.

India, however, remains wary, as it has so far been staying away from the ambitious connectivity initiative launched by China. New Delhi is opposed to the OBOR not only because it perceived the move as Beijing’s attempt to spread its influence in the region, but also because the initiative included the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is proposed to pass through areas it accuses Pakistan of illegally occupying in Kashmir.

Beijing of late sent out words to New Delhi that it would host a multinational conference o the OBOR in China and would expect a “high-level representation” from India. New Delhi, however, remained non-committal, sources here told DH.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has since 2013 been articulating the idea of a ‘21st century Maritime Silk Road’ to revive economic connectivity between the Pacific and Indian Oceans and to link China’s coastline with Southeast Asia, the Gulf and the eastern coast of Africa.

He has also been proposing a ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’, reviving the ancient link between China and the Mediterranean through Central Asia. The two projects are now together called One-Belt-One-Road initiative and the Chinese government has been pulling out all the stops over the past few years to elicit support from other countries and make it a success.

Beijing’s new plan to spread its tentacles further in the Indian Ocean region and the Central Asia, however, caused uneasiness in New Delhi, which has already been wary of China’s “string of pearls” strategic assets encircling India.

New Delhi viewed the OBOR initiative as the one designed by Beijing in pursuit of its own strategic objectives, but not as an inclusive one because the opinions of other “interested or affected” countries had not been taken into account.

The OBOR conclave to be hosted by China is likely to provide India an opportunity to put forward its views. But New Delhi, according to the sources, is still reluctant, particularly because the initiative includes the CPEC, which will link Kashgar in Xinjiang in Northwestern China and a deep sea port at Gwadar in Balochistan in southern Pakistan.
A senior official of the Pakistan army recently said that India should drop its opposition to the CPEC and rather join the initiative. This prompted China to underline that it had an “open attitude” to India joining the CPEC, which was an important component of the OBOR initiative.

Beijing claims that more than 100 countries are actively participating in the OBOR and over 30 countries have inked documents with China.
 

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