Ahead of Modi-Xi heart-to-heart, India refrains from backing OBOR at SCO meet

Days before the first-ever informal summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, China’s One Belt One Road project continue to remain a subject of contention. New Delhi has refrained from expressing support for the mammoth trans-regional connectivity project at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Shanghai Corporation Organization.

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With China on mind, India, UK pitch for secure and open Indo-Pacific Region

: In an oblique critique of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, India and the UK have pitched for “a secure, free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with his British counterpart Theresa May in London on Aoril 18, which culminated in a roadmap for advancing India-UK relation across the spectrum.Beside bilateral issues, a host of geopolitical issues also figured prominently in the discussion. Without naming China, the joint statement underlined the shared commitment of India and the UK for a rules-based international system.“A secure, free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific is in the interests of India, the UK and the international community,” it said.

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Modi cheers Abe’s big election win, India-Japan ties set for upswing

When Shinzo Abe secured a landslide victory in the national election on October 22, making him one of the longest-serving leaders of post-war Japan, one of the first congratulatory messages to reach him was that of his Indian friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Heartiest greetings to my dear friend @AbeShinzo on his big election win,” tweeted an elated Mr. Modi. “Look forward to further strengthen India—Japan relations with him.”
Mr. Abe is one of the few world leaders with whom Mr. Modi shares a great personal chemistry and is also engaged in various joint initiatives both domestically as well as internationally such as the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor which is widely seen as a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

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The presence of strong leaders like Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi opens up the possibilities of path-breaking initiatives that could benefit both countries and transform the geo-political landscape in the region. Given China’s military and economic strength and assertive territorial claims, it will be up to Beijing to initiate the first steps.

India-China relations are presently at a critical stage. The decisions and events of the next 2-5 years will be crucial and could mark a new phase in the relationship. At the same time the flux in geostrategic alignments in the world, caused by the potential shift in the global balance of power to the East, have got accentuated with the election in November 2016 of Donald Trump as the 45th US President and consequent uncertainty about his policies.

The almost simultaneous emergence of strong, new leaders, namely Xi Jinping in China, Narendra Modi in India and Shinzo Abe in Japan, has injected an element of competition in the region. All three are pragmatic leaders with a track record of being decisive and a capacity to take bold decisions.
Ties between India and China are, presently, marked by mutual suspicion. Given China’s military and economic strength and assertive territorial claims, it will be up to Beijing to initiate the first steps. Thus far, Xi Jinping has shown no sign of taking such an initiative.

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China’s Belt and Road Forum: Should India get back on board?

Delivering a keynote address to a mammoth gathering of 1500 people, that included 29 heads of the states and officials, entrepreneurs, financiers, academicians and journalists from over 130 countries including figures such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, Chinese president Xi Jinping reminded people of Zhou Enlai’s speech at the Afro-Asian Conference at Bandung in April 1955 that was also represented by the 29 heads of the states. If India was the prime mover of the conference in Bandung, China is in the driver’s seat as far as the Belt and Road Forum is concerned, and India is conspicuously absent after it boycotted the Forum on the pretext of sovereignty.
The Silk Road spirit
In his address, Xi Jinping said “China’s construction of the Belt and Road Initiative is not to make a new start, but to connect development strategies of different countries and complement each other’s advantages … China is willing to share its development experience with all the rest of the world, but we will not intervene into other nation’s internal affairs, export our social system and development model, nor force others to accept them.” Reiterating the ‘Silk Road Spirit’, the Chinese president said, “Spanning thousands of miles and years, the ancient silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit.” Reassuring the gathering of China’s ‘peaceful rise’, he said, “We will not follow the old way of geopolitical games during the push for the Belt and Road Initiative, but create a new model of win-win and cooperation. It will not form a small group undermining stability, but is set to build a big family with harmonious co-existence.”
If at Bandung, Zhou Enlai was successful in smashing the international blockade by seeking commonalities between the nations, in Beijing Xi Jinping has been successful in smashing protectionism and convincing the nations about common development, the globalisation with Chinese characteristics, and even common security. In order to bulldoze the $1.4trillion ‘project of the century’, Xi Jinping pledged $14.49 billion more to the existing $40 billion Silk Road Fund founded in late 2014.The Development Bank of China and the Export-Import Bank of China has pledged to inject $124 billion in the Belt and Road Initiative to support infrastructure, financing and industrial capacity. This is understandable as China’s trade volume and investment with the Belt and Road Initiative countries in 2016, exceeded $3 trillion and $50billion respectively.

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China courts Bangladesh with big-ticket deals

China looks set to raise the bar for its ties with Bangladesh by announcing deals and loans worth billions of dollars during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s official visit to Dhaka on October 14. Bangladeshi officials are expecting at least &20 billion package of investment and aid during President Xi’s visit.

The two countries are also expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on strengthening investment and production capacity. In an issue of concern to India, Mr Xi is also set to launch a charm offensive to win Dhaka’s support for his per project of trans-regional connectivity, ‘One Belt One Road’(OBOR).

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