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  India   All India  03 Apr 2017  China’s infrastructure push worries India

China’s infrastructure push worries India

THE ASIAN AGE. | SRIDHAR KUMARASWAMI
Published : Apr 3, 2017, 3:38 am IST
Updated : Apr 3, 2017, 4:28 am IST

The Pakistani government and Army have assured Beijing that they will do everything possible to ensure the CPEC is completed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. (Photo: AP)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. (Photo: AP)

Beijing: With China planning to invest billions of yuan in constructing railways, waterways and highways as part of its giant One Belt One Road, or OBOR, global initiative, New Delhi is evaluating whether it should join a conference planned in Beijing next month on the Chinese project.

India is “yet to take a view on this”, given its reservations on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor running through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, said a person in the government with direct knowledge of the matter. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is believed to be a part of or linked to the OBOR concept.

 

Yet, South Block is not oblivious to the economic benefits of connectivity in other corridors which are set to be part of OBOR.

For instance, connectivity along a corridor linking China, Bangladesh, Myanmar and India could bring immense trade benefits to the “underdeveloped” states in India’s north-east. But New Delhi is wary since OBOR will certainly boost Chinese influence globally and not just in India’s immediate neighbourhood.

The proposed OBOR comprises two corridors, one on land, and the other maritime. The land corridors will be part of the Silk Road Economic Belt, or SREB, with corridors through central, west and south Asia which will link China with Europe.

 

The SREB is coined on the ancient Silk Road through which successive Chinese empires traded with the Romans who greatly prized silk, then the premium Chinese product.

The SREB will forge China’s links with western Europe through central Asia and Russia, and with the Mediterranean through west Asia. It will also ensure access to the Indian Ocean through the much shorter land route via Pakistan that passes through PoK, culminating in the port of Gwadar in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.

But problems remain even in execution of the CPEC. Officials of the state-owned China Communications Constr-uction Co. Ltd told this newspaper in Beijing that they are facing a “safety problem in Pakistan”; however, the Pakistani government was providing them “special security”.

 

“Safety in Pakistan is always on our mind but it is not the biggest challenge we have faced,” said a company official who did not want to be named.

The Pakistani government and Army have assured Beijing that they will do everything possible to ensure the CPEC is completed.

India has opposed the CPEC on the grounds that it passes through PoK, which is sovereign Indian territory under the illegal occupation of Islamabad.

But China is only too aware of India’s thirst for rapid development, a promise that the Narendra Modi government has given to the Indian electorate.

China has built entire cities in the hinterland out of nowhere, including its technological marvels such as the Beijing-Shanghai bullet train and a 32-km-long bridge over the East China Sea connecting Shanghai to an island where a port is being built.

 

The OBOR is the brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping who reportedly first outlined the concept in Kazakhstan in September 2013, and then in Indonesia in October 2013.

The second part of the OBOR project comprises sea routes connecting China with south-east Asia and onward to Africa, supplemented by rail and road networks for which Beijing has heavily invested in Africa.

India, which is also uneasy about Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean and in some nations — apart from Pakistan — in the region, which include Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, the Maldives and even land-locked Nepal, has its own deep engagement with the Asean nations in south-east Asia and the African  continent as part of the India-Africa Forum Summit initiative.

 

The growing Chinese military presence in the Indian Ocean region and constant movement of Chinese submarines have also unnerved New Delhi.

Dragon breathes fire
China plans to invest billions of yuan in One Belt One Road (OBOR) global initiative
OBOR comprises railways, waterways and highways projects
India is wary since OBOR will boost Chinese influence globally
OBOR comprises two corridors: One on land, and the other maritime
Land corridors part of Silk Road Economic Belt, which will link China with Europe
Second part of OBOR comprises sea routes connecting China with south-east Asia and onward to Africa

Tags: xi jinping, indian ocean, one belt one road
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi