New Delhi, May 15 – Beijing on Monday taunted New Delhi for turning down its One Belt and Road (OBOR) invite by saying that India will have a very “small role” to play if it decides to join the initiative in the future.
“It is strange that the onlooker is more anxious than the players. While India cares about its neighbours’ debt burden, the neighbours appear willing to take on more,” state-run Global Times said in a report.
The article further stated that given the active responses from countries along the route, there is no way for India to impede its neighbouring countries from cooperating with China in infrastructure development. India’s refusal to join China’s high-profile initiative will not at all affect the cooperation in infrastructure development among its neighbouring countries, the report added.
The two-day Belt and Road Forum which is being attended by leaders from 29 countries, including Pakistan, has been boycotted by India due to sovereignty concerns over the $50 billion CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
“India was openly sceptical of China’s Belt and Road Forum (BRF) hours ahead of the opening of the event, mainly due to concerns over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key project of the B&R, and whether it might influence the disputed Kashmir region,” the report said.
The article also took a jibe at India’s stand, calling it regrettable despite Beijing’s offer to go easy on its Kashmir stand. “China would never force any country to participate in the B&R if it was too sceptical and nervous to do so. It is regrettable but not a problem that India still maintains its strong opposition to the B&R, even though China has repeatedly said its position on the Kashmir dispute would not change because of the CPEC,” the article said.
Referring to the statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs on March 13, a day before the two-day B&R summit, it said India also cited the potential debt burden as one of its other concerns, saying that, “connectivity initiatives must follow the principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create an unsustainable debt burden for communities.”
On Saturday, Pakistan and China inked new deals worth nearly $500 million, covering airport, port and highway construction, it said.
“As regards the potential debt burden, Pakistan’s repayments will peak at around $5 billion in 2022, but this will be offset by transit fees charged in the CPEC,” another media report said.