At SCO Summit, India holds off on endorsing China’s Belt and Road project
India held off on endorsing China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the joint declaration issued after the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Bishkek on Friday, a reflection of New Delhi’s concerns about the ambitious trade and connectivity project.
All other members of the SCO, especially the Central Asian states, have enthusiastically signed on for President Xi Jinping’s flagship project. However, India has protested about BRI because a key component – the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
“The Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan reaffirm their support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative and praise the results of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (which was held in April 26),” the Bishkek Declaration said.
The declaration noted that ongoing work to implement BRI includes efforts to align Eurasian Economic Union projects with those under China’s initiative.
In his speech at the SCO Summit, PM Narendra Modi highlighted the importance of better connectivity...but said without naming China, that such initiatives must be based on “respect for sovereignty, regional integrity, good governance, transparency...and reliability”.
Indian officials say CPEC has security implications for the country as it includes highways that could facilitate the rapid movement of Pakistani troops. They also say Beijing’s regulations for projects under BRI around the world favour Chinese firms and don’t provide a level playing field even for Indian firms with global expertise.
India stayed away from both Belt and Road Forums hosted by China. India’s concerns about BRI are expected discussed when Xi and Modi meet at second informal summit in October.