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The B&R Initiative: an opportunity for India to solidify good neighborly relations with China

Editor: zhangrui 丨CCTV.com

04-25-2017 09:44 BJT

By Rabi Sankar Bosu, an India freelance contributor to Chinese media outlets

China will host the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation from May 14 to 15 in Beijing. The BRF has attracted an increasing amount of attention from the international community since Chinese President Xi Jinping announced it at the 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos on January 17 this year. The forum will be the most important international gathering to better build consensus and advance cooperation, as its theme suggests, "Cooperation for Common Prosperity."
The Belt and Road Initiative (B&R), which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was first put forward by President Xi Jinping in the autumn of 2013. The B&R has since become a very popular initiative and the best platform for international cooperation with the brightest prospects in the world.

The forthcoming forum will be attended by 28 heads of state and government and more than 60 leaders of international organizations, 100 ministerial-level officials, as well as 1,200 delegates from various countries and regions for international cooperation. Unfortunately, India has not yet decided on its representation at the summit.

While more and more countries are joining China's B&R, India's insistence on keeping a distance from this mega project is quite a conundrum. It is reported that in the past three years, more than 100 countries and international organizations are already participating in the initiative.

By not joining the B&R, India is missing out an opportunity for economic development that the B&R has to offer. India should realize that the initiative, the grand trade and infrastructure plan, will not only contribute to China’s development but also to coordinated regional development.

At the February 22 upgraded China-India Strategic Dialogue in Beijing this year, Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar articulated India's official position on the $46 billion China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor (CPEC) project, accusing the CPEC of violating India's sovereignty as it runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). He said that India cannot join a program that hurts Indian territorial interests. India fears that the CPEC would serve the purpose of granting legitimacy to Pakistan's control over the Kashmir region, and by promoting the construction of the corridor, China intends to meddle in the Kashmir dispute.

It is unwise to think that China does not respect India's sovereignty concerns. Reacting to India's stand on the CPEC, a recent op-ed in the Global Times wrote, "China has no intention of interfering in the territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. China has long believed that the two neighbors should solve their dispute through dialogue and consultations and it has repeatedly emphasized that the construction of the CPEC would not affect its stance on the issue."

In fact, India's current detachment from the B&R represents a contradictory mentality. India is worried that China, under the framework of the B&R, might chip away at its regional leadership. It's really ridiculous that on the one hand, India hopes to deepen economic cooperation with China to promote its "Made in India" campaign, while on the other, it is concerned about China's growing influence in South Asia.

India needs to embrace China's B&R with an "open attitude" as most Asian countries are participating in the initiative in a spirit of openness for economic benefits.

No doubt, the B&R is an opportunity to modernize India’s Stone Age infrastructure and pave the way for rapid industrialization and employment growth. Partnering with China, India can reap economic benefits from the B&R in the long run. Joining B&R will not only increase India's trade substantially; it will also increase better access to funds through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund, better access to Middle East’s energy resources and increase people-to-people exchanges with the other countries as the B&R aims to build land and sea links between China and Europe through roads, railway lines, power projects and ports in potentially more than 60 countries.

China has become a high-income economy with strong harmonious relations and driven by creativity and the power of ideas. It should not be lost on us that China is far richer than we are. Let's admit it: China is not our enemy. Instead of opposing CPEC, I hope that India will involve itself in China’s B&R with a more pragmatic attitude and look at different opportunities through CPEC, a project that will link more than 60 countries.

The sound and stable development of China-India relations in recent years has proved that the 'dragon' and the 'elephant' should join hands to speed up cooperation and usher in a better future for all, from Asia to the World, "boosting cooperation and realizing win-win development."

【Rabi Sankar Bosu, Secretary of CRI’s New Horizon Radio Listeners’ Club, based in West Bengal, India】

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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