Belt and Road Action Plan: Choices for India

In search of economic expansion and to gain strategic depth in the region, China has proposed a revival of the ancient trading route- the ‘Silk Route’- which connected East Asia to Eastern Europe, via Central Asia. While China maintains that its motives are purely commercial gain, others remain wary. India has been uneasy about the heavy investments made by China in South Asian countries, traditionally considered a part of India’s neighbourhood, and the hardliners see the ‘one belt, one road’ initiative as just a velvet coated ploy to further encircle India, as a possible extension of the ‘string of pearls’. In such scenario, there is a need for a nuanced examination of the initiative itself and India’s concerns and options.

‘Belt and Road’ initiative

In a very significant move, the blue print for the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative was spelt out by Xi Jinping in the recently concluded Bo Ao Forum for Asia, convened in Sanya, Hainan.

Xi JinpingThe concept was first proposed by Mr. Xi in a speech at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan, in 2013. He said that to “forge closer economic ties, deepen cooperation and expand development” in the Euro-Asia region, there was a need to build an “economic belt” reviving the ancient trading routes, which had historically linked Asia to Europe. He proposed that traffic connectivity and economic integration needed to be promoted to open the strategic regional thoroughfare from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea, and gradually move toward the set-up of a network of transportation that connects Eastern, Western and Southern Asia.

Read More