Belt & Road: China’s Xi pitches for open trade and shared prosperity, pledges &100 billion more

Unveiling his vision of “One Belt, and One Road,” a grand trans-regional connectivity project that seeks to link the four continents and encompass over 65 countries, China’s President Xi Jinping has made a robust pitch in the Chinese capital to the world to cooperate in his dream of shared prosperity.
Addressing the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on May 14, the Chinese president pledged around US$113 billion in extra funding for OBOR. He said that China’s Silk Road Fund will increase funding by 100 billion yuan, Chinese banks will extend 300 billion yuan in overseas capital, the China Development Bank will pledge 250 billion yuan, and the Export and Import Bank of China will add 130 billion yuan in special loans to Belt and Road projects.

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Why India is wary of CPEC & OBOR: It’s sovereignty issue

The China challenge or the China threat emerged as a leitmotif in a high-profile international conference in New Delhi, with India being upfront about its political differences with Beijing and asking the latter to respect India’s sovereignty in the course of building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
India, however, took care to eschew a negative adversarial construct of India-China relations, with Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar making it clear that in New Delhi’s assessment, the rise of India and China can be “mutually supportive.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his part, outlined briefly a template of harmonious India-China relations, saying “respect and sensitivity for each other’s core interests” holds the key.
“China is very sensitive on matters concerning its sovereignty. We expect they will respect other people’s sovereignty,” said Mr Jaishankar at the second edition of Raisina Dialogue, co-organised by India’s Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation.

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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.

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