Raising sovereignty concerns related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and in apparent retaliation to the Chinese snub on the NSG membership bid and Masood Azhar issues, India on Sunday skipped the opening ceremony of China’s high profile Belt and Road Forum, an ambitious initiative on boosting the country’s trade links to the rest of the world.
Inaugurating the summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping said all countries should respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, without referring to India’s objections to the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC.
All countries should respect each other’s sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity, each other’s development paths and social systems, and each other’s core interests and major concernsXi Jinping, Chinese President
No Indian delegation was seen at the opening ceremony addressed by Xi Jinping. When inquired, Indian diplomats pointed to the statement issued by MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay Saturday night. “...No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Baglay was quoted by PTI.
Regarding the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’, which is being projected as the flagship project of the... OBOR, the international community is well aware of India’s position... No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity. Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative. We are awaiting a positive response from the Chinese sideGopal Baglay, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson
Meanwhile, Beijing suggested that it is ready keep the doors open for India to join the Belt program at a later date, but will not budge from the CPEC.
Few Indian scholars attended the meeting. Media was not permitted into the conference hall, where the opening ceremony took place. Indian scholars who took part in the meeting said no Indian delegation was spotted.
The meeting called the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) is being attended by 29 heads of state and governments including Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickrmasinghe, besides official delegations from other South Asian countries.
China in the last few days has managed to rope in a number of western countries, including the US which finally agreed to send a top official after Washington clinched a lucrative trade deal. Leaders and officials from as many as 29 countries including Russia, Japan, UK, Germany and France are attending the meeting.
The May 14-15 summit, which is expected to strengthen Xi’s power base as he gets set to begin his second five-year tenure later this year.