Arun Jaitley’s remark on ‘One Belt, One Road’ shows unease in ties with China

May 8, 2017
NEW DELHI: Finance minister Arun Jaitley‘s remarks expressing reservations over China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative+ ahead of a major meeting on the project in Beijing brings out the unease in India-China relations over a range of political issues.

Jaitley told the media in Japan, where he is attending deliberations of the Asian Development Bank, that the OBOR and its Pakistani component of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridors) raises sovereignty issues for India+ .

He said this even while pushing for more economic cooperation among Asian nations, underlining the specific issues surrounding the CPEC that is seen as a massive economic and political commitment by China in Pakistan but which raises Indian hackles as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

“I have no hesitation in saying we have some serious reservations about it, because of sovereignty issues,” the minister was quoted as saying in a media report.

Despite China’s urging+ , India has so far not announced its participation+ in the Beijing meeting, ignoring the host’s arguments that staying away would isolate it.

India is part of other multilateral discussions with China on several fora such as BRICS and will soon be a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation but sees any endorsement of CPEC as prejudicial to its claim that the entire state of J&K is Indian territory.

The relationship has become more tense with China’s resolute opposition to India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group by raising debatable comparisons with Pakistan and also blocking efforts to sanction Pakistan-based terrorists like Maulana Masood Azhar.
The CPEC is one of many significant irritants in India-China relations+ as it is seen as intensifying Pakistan’s hold on PoK and deepening an economic corridor that has military implications as it links with Xinjiang where the Chinese are pouring billions of dollars into developing infrastructure. India has always contested Pakistan’s decision to cede Aksai Chin to China as illegal and an infringement of its sovereignty and has a bearing on the decision to keep away from OBOR.
The CPEC is, however, posing some challenges to China with concerns that it might have “over-invested” in the project as it faces a serious threat from terror groups currently fighting the Pakistan army. For Pakistan, the corridor is another example of China’s increasing dominance in its economic and diplomatic affairs.
In return for the investments in Pakistan’s economy, China expects its all-weather ally to regularly act as its proxy and oppose any criticism of Beijing in developing nation forums.