Following Chinese ambassador Lou Zhaohui’s suggestion that his country was ready to accommodate India’s concerns regarding the One Belt, One Road initiative, experts in India have opined that India should have adopted a wait and watch approach instead of rejecting it outright.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui has once again suggested that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) could be re-routed to assuage India’s concerns. Delivering a speech at the Center for Chinese and South-East Asian Studies, ambassador Zhaohui said that China “can change the name of CPEC” and “create an alternative corridor through Jammu & Kashmir, Nathu La pass or Nepal to deal with India’s concerns.”
This was the second time for the Chinese ambassador to have raised the possibility of renaming CPEC, giving credence to the speculations that he is acting on explicit instructions from Beijing, and not expressing his personal views. Further adding weight to the theory, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has so far said nothing that disproves the ambassador’s otherwise controversial remarks.
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“CPEC is an economic cooperation initiative that has nothing to do with territorial sovereignty disputes, and does not affect China’s and Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir issue,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a regular press briefing.
Meanwhile, India’s foreign ministry sounded positive.
“India is open to any effort that could address our legitimate concerns on (Belt and Road Initiative of China),” Raveesh Kumar, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said.
India had declined to join the OBOR in May when the foreign ministry issued a detailed statement rejecting the trillion-dollar infrastructure initiative, citing sovereignty and environmental issues, particularly over the CPEC.
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Experts in India say that instead of outrightly rejecting the OBOR, India should have adopted a wait-and-watch approach.
“OBOR is about geopolitics and India rejected it hastily. Many countries which may not become part of it still sent a delegation. The Chinese ambassador is talking about options in which the project could be altered to preserve India’s interest. What we read in news, they are ready to accommodate our interests, design new routes. We need to see the long-term picture and how Chinese function. For instance, India and Russia working together within BRICS made China include Masood Azhar’s name and other Pakistan-based terror organizations in the statement. I think India could have taken a similar approach as part of the OBOR,” P. Stobdan, a former ambassador and distinguished fellow, at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses told Sputnik.
The CPEC will link Kashgar in Xinjiang in north-western China and a deep sea port at Gwadar in Balochistan in south-western Pakistan. New Delhi has opposed the proposed economic corridor as it would pass through parts of disputed Kashmir.