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India can join BRI project or just watch China’s influence growing: State media

India cannot prevent the growth of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and would end up watching China’s expanding international influence by not joining the connectivity project, state media said on Monday.

“It should also be noted that New Delhi cannot prevent the growth of the OBOR’s (One Belt, One Road) influence. If India wants to exclude itself from the OBOR at a time when the initiative is receiving widespread support from the global community, India will end up simply watching the rise of China’s international reputation,” the nationalistic tabloid, Global Times, said.

The newspaper was reacting to an HT report that said the United Nations Security Council endorsing BRI complicated India’s claims on Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (PoK) as the initiative’s flagship project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), passes through the disputed territory.

“New Delhi has yet to sign up for the OBOR, and has claimed that there is a sovereignty issue with the Belt and Road initiative as the CPEC passes through PoK,” the Global Times said quoting HT.

“Both the OBOR and the CPEC are economic initiatives. Hopefully India will wake up to the benefits and adopt an open attitude toward joining the initiatives.”

“The dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan makes New Delhi habitually vigilant against any possibility of large-scale foreign investment flowing into the region, but it is necessary to learn to distinguish activities between normal commercial investment and ones that could violate India’s sovereignty,” it said.

“However, despite concerns from India, broader support has been given to the OBOR from the international community. China will host the first OBOR summit in May, with more than 20 government leaders and more than 50 heads of international organisations set to congregate in Beijing for the meeting,” it said.

The article suggested that India should join the project as it is unable to influence other countries to shun it.

“If New Delhi is unable to persuade other nations to abandon the OBOR, one practical approach is to get involved in the initiative in a bid to promote the development of the OBOR in a direction that is favourable to India,” the article said.

In fact, by joining the project, India could actually shift the initiative’s centre of gravity towards itself.

“China and India share a large potential for cooperation in areas such as infrastructure. If New Delhi has concerns about the CPEC as a flagship project in the OBOR, India’s joining the initiative could cement its economic ties with China and possibly shift the initiative’s centre of gravity,” it said.

The BRI is Xi’s ambitious connectivity project that aims to connect China with Asia and Europe over land and sea through infrastructure projects like ports and road and railway trade corridors. Beijing claims it has rounded up at least 100 countries in support of the multi-billion-dollar intercontinental connectivity mission, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

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