China’s Xi rejects geopolitics behind BRI: Will India bite the bait?

china-xi-boao1Amid persistent anxieties about the nature of the Belt and Road (BRI) project among a host of countries, including India, China’s President Xi Jinping has rejected any ulterior “geopolitical calculations” behind the BRI and underlined China’s commitment to “building a community with a shared future for mankind.”

“China has no geopolitical calculations, seeks no exclusionary blocs and imposes no business deals on others,” the Chinese leader said at the Boao Forum for Asia, popularly known as ‘Asia’s Davos’, in the island of Hainan. He also assured that the project does not impose any unfavourable deals on any countries.

As the international community continues to be divided on the implications of the BRI, President Xi seems more optimistic than ever. He remarked, “…we can make the BRI the broadest platform for international cooperation in keeping with the trend of economic globalisation and to the greater benefit of all our peoples.”

The Chinese leader’s renewed assurance about BRI, however, may not assuage worries of sceptics like India which has consistently rejected the project on grounds of lack of transparency and sovereignty concerns. China has launched a charm offensive to win over India, but New Delhi has made it clear that it will never accept OBOR/BRI in its present form as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a vital node of OBOR, passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, which is claimed in entirety by India.

As an alternative to the BRI, India and Japan are partnering in the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), which seeks to build infrastructure and industry corridors spanning the two rising continents. Geopolitically, India has teamed up with the US, Japan and Australia to form the Quadrilateral Dialogue, which seeks to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

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