OBOR Summit: Acid Test For India’s Position On PoK

Going by any diplomatic understanding, India appears to have been subdued by China on the contentious issue of One Belt and One Road (OBOR) Summit, which was opened in Beijing on Sunday.

New Delhi: India skipped the China’s initiative as it  is strongly opposed to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), but 29 other nations including US, Russia, all the neighbouring nations of India as well as IMF and ADB have participated. Secretary General of United Nations Mr. Antonio Guterres has also attended.

OBOR was the brain child of Chinese President Xi Jinping and was originally conceived in 2013.This is about connecting Asia, Africa and Europe which was in fact there during ancient times. According to Chinese plan, this is purely a trade route and it is about roads, rail links and sea routes between nations. Since the launch four years ago, China has helped  several South East Asian nations to form road and rail link projects and now it wants to expand globally.

But Indian has strong objections on the grand project as it passes through Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. More so, the Karakoram range will be expanded greatly and these will create security problems to India. A closer Sino-Pak ties will also pose threat to Kashmir region, India strongly felt.

This is the reason why India stayed away from the summit. It released a strongly-worded statement well before the summit saying- “ 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. Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative,” the statement said, adding, “We are awaiting a positive response from the Chinese side”.

But China rejected India’s contention and concerns. Without referring to these objections, President Xi, in his inaugural address said- “all countries should respect each other’s sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity, each other’s development paths and social systems, and each other’s core interests and major concerns.”

The China- Pak Economic Corridor is a small sub-group of OBOR and projects worth $50 billion will be taken up and this includes road through PoK.

India strongly claims PoK as its territory but China said the OBOR has no geographical boundaries.

Pakistan in a veiled attack on India, said no country should try to politicize the issue.

India also suspects that this project is an attempt to promote Chinese influence globally. But China says that the scheme is open to all, is a win-win and aimed only at promoting prosperity. “What we hope to create is a big family of harmonious co-existence,” President Xi said, adding pursuit of the initiative will not resort to outdated geopolitical manoeuvring.

Diplomatic analysts say that the presence of US and Russia as well as UN confirm international ratification for the project. India’s concern that laying a major road through one of “its” territory which is disputed, will give Pakistan’s occupation (of PoK) a degree of legitimacy is correct, they felt. In a way, it is conceding ground to Pakistan, which means, India’s stated position will get a body blow.

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