India reiterates opposition to China’s Belt, Road Initiative

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by News Desk

NEW DELHI (The Statesman/ ANN) - Without naming China or its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), India on Thursday reiterated its objection to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet project on the ground that it runs through the Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir which is under Pakistan’s illegal occupation.

‘’Connectivity projects should be consultative and consequent with the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity,’’ said, Vijay Gokhale, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry who will take over as Foreign Secretary towards the end of this month. 

He was responding to questions after his address at the 3rd ‘Raisina Dialogue’, organised by the External Affairs Ministry and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

Gokhale, who was until recently India’s Ambassador to China and played a key role in resolving the Doklam military stand-off, replied in the affirmative when asked if the BRI would lead to dependency of many small nations on China. "If you have players who come and set different set of rules, who set a different set of standards, where there are no standards, where there are weak rules and procedures, you automatically create infrastructure and ecosystem of dependency," he added. 

The diplomat said the issue was not whether Africa or any other continent would become dependent on any country but the issue was what the international community was doing about one country which was not following basic international rules on sovereignty and territorial integrity.

 "What is the rest of the world going to do to ensure that there is a certain rule setting, and that the existing rule setting is not disrupted because any one country or any group of countries decide its own set of rules and then proceeds," he said.

Gokhale also raised questions over the methodology to be used while executing the BRI. "Is this process (of BRI) demand-driven, consultative? Does it allow a fair and open competition? Is the process built on multilateral frameworks that already exist and is the process consequent with principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity?" he asked.