India should work with China on OBOR for its own economic benefit

India should work with China on OBOR for its own economic benefit

Xi Jinping has just organized a mega show to sell China’s vast Eurasia Connectivity program, known as a One Way Belt (OBOR) or Belt Route Initiative (BRI), the world. Present on the occasion, presidents and prime ministers and other leaders of the world and, more deconcertément, our neighboring countries.
If you have the impression that India was isolated in your boycott of the meeting, that is not bad. But this was a preventable injury. The basis of New Delhi’s strong opposition to OBOR has never been clear. In his speech at the Raisina Dialogue in March 2016, foreign secretary S Jaishankar had implicitly criticized China for creating free connectivity “consultation process” and making decisions for its participants.
Subsequently, New Delhi raised the issue of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through POK. Last week, it listed objections to the plan, official Gopal Bagley said that “no country can accept a project that ignores the fundamental concerns of sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
But it seemed more of a pretext to oppose OBOR than anything else; India has never seriously sought the return of Gilgit-Baltistan and wanted the Line for an international border. At present, many wiring has already been completed. 2017 will see more than 2 000 trains travel (estimated) a dozen Chinese cities to more than 20 European destinations in the newly built lines and tunnels in Central Asia. Pipelines and railroads have already changed the economic focus of the region from Russia to China. Southeast Asia is undergoing a similar process with new train lines covering traditional sea routes. In the Indian Ocean region (IOR), Chinese companies have built, are being built and, in many cases, operating, the port (Kyaukpyu) Myanmar (Hambantota) Sri Lanka (Gwadar) Pakistan (Bagamoyo) Tanzania (Lamu) Kenya. As part of this, China has also made strategic investments in Central and Eastern Europe.
It is important to understand what OBOR and what is not. Its main objective is to integrate the rich European economy with that of China, not the CPEC and Pakistan, which are unique testimonies of the ambitious project.
The shortest target is that China is emerging as a dominant regional power in its neighborhood, where it is already the important economic presence. In relation to this is the tension to protect Chinese maritime trade, especially oil, in the IOR.

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