Saibal Dasgupta | 9 hours ago
BEIJING: China is putting pressure on India to participate in an international conference on its One Belt, One Road or Silk Road programme next May after realizing that showcasing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would not be enough to sell the OBOR idea.
This is evident from several comments from Chinese officials and experts about the Indian reluctance to join the OBOR program that involves creating road, rail and port infrastructure connecting China to the world.
A Chinese expert has now accused India of taking a "biased view" of the OBOR program. The expert, Lin Minwang of the Institute of International Studies at Shaghai's Fudan University, even tried to shame India by citing some reports about Russia expressing interest in it.
"New Delhi may also feel embarrassed as Moscow has actively responded to the Belt and Road (OBOR) initiative and will build an economic corridor with China and Mongolia," Lin said adding, "Since the beginning of this year, there have been reports on Russia and Iran seeking to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which will likely put India in a more awkward position".
However, Russia has not sanctioned any specific programme for connecting with OBOR apart from making a few statements about its interests.
China expects heads of at least 20 countries to participate in the OBOR conference, when it will try to persuade governments in Asia and Europe to join the programme. Beijing desperately wants India to participate because that would make it attractive to other South Asian countries.
China is sore because India's reluctance has made it difficult for China to extend the OBOR network to Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. But Lin maintained that these countries are also interested in joining the program.
He said, "Beijing has expressed, on various occasions, its anticipation to see New Delhi join the grand project and to make concerted effort with India in building economic corridors involving China, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar."
Writing in the state-backed Global Times, Lin said that "other smaller states in South Asia have shown interest toward the One Belt, One Road initiative. India is definitely reluctant to see itself being left out of all these economic cooperation projects between China and other South Asian nations. Whether to continue to boycott or join the Belt and Road remains a conundrum for New Delhi."
On its part, India has pointed out that China is building infrastructure projects in the disputed Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and thus hurting its interest in the name of China Pakistan Economic Corridor and OBOR. New Delhi cannot join a program that hurts Indian territorial interests.
"The official reason why the Indian government rejected the offer to join the initiative is that it is designed to pass Kashmir, a disputed area between India and Pakistan. However, it is just an unfounded excuse as Beijing has been maintaining a consistent position on the Kashmir issue, which has never changed," said Lin.
He seemed to suggest that India should accept Beijing's oral assurances in the face of mounting evidence of China creating infrastructure and legitimizing Pakistan's claim over POK