India to boycott China’s BRI forum again

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Image Reuters

DHARAMSALA, 8 April 2019: India, having boycotted China’s first Belt and Road Forum (BRF) has yet again turned down China’s invite for the second forum meet to be held later this month.

“India has turned down an official invite from China to attend the second Belt and Road Forum meet scheduled to take place later this month,” The Times of India reported citing its diplomatic sources.

It is understood that the invitation to participate in the Forum meeting was delivered to India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) by Chinese authorities last month but India is said to have reiterated its concerns over China Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC), the report added.

While China hopes that India will review its position on Belt and Road Initiative and participate in the forum, India will stick to its ground and snub the forum again.

“It is unlikely that anybody in the Indian embassy in Beijing will participate in the event even as an observer,” the report added.

India boycotted China’s first BRF held from 14-15 May 2017 in Beijing due to its sovereignty concerns over the USD 50 billion CPEC which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The meeting was attended by 29 world leaders, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

A day before the Summit, India’s then Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Gopal Bagley was has reportedly said that, “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.”

At that time, China took a strong exception to India’s stand on its Belt and Road initiative and asked New Delhi to explain what kind of “meaningful dialogue” it wants with Beijing on the multibillion-dollar venture.

As it stands now, the two Asian giants are yet to reach a consensus and China blocking a move to declare JeM Chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist for the fourth time earlier this year in March at the UN could have complicated the matter more and the fact that CPEC has been projected as the flagship project of China’s ambitious BRI didn’t help either.

BRI, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet project has hit the headlines in Sri Lanka, Maldives and even in Pakistan for all the wrong reasons while it is alleged globally as China’s debt trap.

The report further raised India’s concerns with regards to transparency, economic feasibility and mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

India along with Japan, another nation that decided not to get on board China’s BRI decided to compete with their alternative, Asia-Africa Growth Corridor unveiled by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi during the African Development Bank annual meeting in Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat on 16 May 2017.

The Asia-Africa connectivity project, which stretches from Japan to Africa via the Indian Ocean, aims to bring the Indian Ocean region and the African continent closer by focussing on Development Cooperation Projects, Quality Infrastructure and Institutional Connectivity, Enhancing Skills and People-to-People Partnership.

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