India refuses to endorse China's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative

Prime Minister Modi, speaking at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, suggested that the BRI project does not adequately respect the 'sovereignty and territorial integrity' of all nations involved

Chinese President Xi Jinping, welcomes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Chinese President Xi Jinping, welcomes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) annual forum held in Qingdao, China, on June 9-10, India delivered a sobering message to Beijing.

Among the eight permanent members of the SCO, on the topic of China’s proposed massive trade and infrastructure plan, the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative (BRI), India was the only member nation that steadfastly refused to endorse the project.

A seventeen page “Qingdao Declaration” was issued on Sunday, June 11 following the conclusion of the annual SCO Summit. Nations listed in the document that all “reaffirmed their support for the BRI” were Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Conspicuously absent from the list of nations was India.

The Times of India reports that in his keynote address at the Summit Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a clear reference to the BRI project stating that any massive connectivity and infrastructure project “must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries” involved.

In that regard, Modi reportedly said that India would fully support initiatives which “ensure inclusivity.” Judging from the absence of his support for the Qingdao Declaration, the BRI does not constitute such an “inclusive” initiative.

Much of India’s criticism of the BRI comes from India’s concern regarding the large amounts of investment China is putting into developing the “China Pakistan Economic Corridor” (CPEC). Given the sour relations between India and Pakistan and the conflict of the Kashmir region, India is concerned about the future implications of the CPEC.

The Times of India reports that India “cannot accept a project that ignores its core concern on sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale was quoted on Saturday, June 9 as saying there is very little chance of India ever endorsing the BRI project, reports the Wire.

“I think India’s position on this matter is already spelt out…India supports all connectivity initiatives but believes these should also bearing in mind the sensitivity to each country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty as well as sustainability and viability in other ways,”said Gokhale.