Taking its protest over the China’s controversial China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that is traversing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), India on 14 May 2017 boycotted China's high-profile Belt and Road (B&R) Forum. The boycott of the two-day forum came even after Beijing proposed to ensure India’s participation in the project.
India skipped the meeting due to its sovereignty concerns over the USD 50 billion CPEC, which passes through PoK.
No Indian official of any level was present at the elaborate opening ceremony attended by 29 heads of state and government along with top officials of the world bodies like the UN, the World Bank and the IMF. However, the event was attended by a few Indian scholars representing think tanks, who also took part in the group discussions.
The meeting was inaugurated by Chinese President Xi Jinping and was participated by world leaders like Pakistan’s Sharif, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The US sent a delegation led by Matt Pottinger, special assistant to the President and senior director for Asia at the National Security Council.
Xi who inaugurated the meeting said that the Belt and Road initiative is "a project of the century" that will benefit people across the world.
In the run-up to the forum, China had sought to allay India's concerns over the CPEC, saying that the project has no bearing on its stand on the Kashmir issue which should be resolved between India and Pakistan through dialogue.
Following India's boycott, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, taking a veiled swipe at New Delhi's move, said the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was an economic project open to all the nations in the region and it "must not be politicised".
The conference concluded on 15 May 2017 with a joint declaration.
Belt and Road initiative
The Belt and Road initiative includes a maze of roads and port projects. While CPEC is highlighted as "flagship project", the B&R includes the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor, New Eurasian Land Bridge, China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor and 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
How Belt and Road initiative is going to help China and Pakistan?
The ambitious Belt and Road initiative will allow China to boost trades and stimulate economic growth across Asia and ahead. The project is important for China because it will open an economic corridor for Chinese goods and technology at least at a time when the world economy is slowing. It will also act as a gateway for China to the oil of the Middle East and mineral resources of Africa. Secondly, it also allows China to encircle India.
On the other hand, the initiative will allow Pakistan to have big infrastructure projects, which may help it to be a matured economy from emerging economy.
What: Boycotted by India
When: 14-15 May 2017