China on Tuesday took strong exception to India’s stand on its Belt and Road initiative and asked New Delhi to explain what kind of ‘meaningful dialogue’ it wants with Beijing on the multibillion-dollar venture.
‘Over the past four years since the project was initiated we have been holding the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits’ for the Belt and Road initiative, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, reacting to Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Gopal Bagley’s remarks that China should hold a meaningful dialogue on the concerns over the One Belt One Road project.
“I do not know what the spokesperson (of MEA was) trying to say. What kind of dialogue is a meaningful dialogue? What kind of a positive attitude the spokesman wants China to have?” Hua said when asked for her reaction to Bagley’s remarks a day before the two-day Belt and Road Forum.
India boycotted the Belt and Road Forum held from May 14-15. The meeting was attended by 29 world leaders, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
India skipped the meeting due to its sovereignty concerns over the $50 billion (Rs 3.25 lakh crore) China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
A day before the Summit, Baglay had said in New Delhi that, “Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative, ‘One Belt, One Road’, which was later renamed as ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. We are awaiting a positive response from the Chinese side.”
Hua, while responding to Baglay's remarks, said, “I think our ideas and actions are there for all to see. You can see the response of the international community towards this forum.”
“Our attitude is always clear. We always want India to participate in the Belt and Road initiative. If they have the answer, they can give the answer to me, either in a public or private?” she said.
Hua said China always followed the principle of extensive consultation with other countries on the project over which India has sovereignty concerns.
“We always say the Belt and Road initiative is an open and inclusive one. We always follow the principle of extensive consultation, contribution and shared benefit,” she said, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s remarks at the Summit that benefits from the venture should be shared by all.
Skirting any references to India’s absence at the meeting, Xi had said, “All countries should respect each other’s sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity, each other’s development paths and social systems, and each other’s cores interests and major concerns.”
“I think these initiatives by China have already made a clear response to the Indian side,” Hua said.
Hua asserted that China has already made its position clear on the Kashmir issue over which the Indian side is concerned.
The Belt and Road initiative is for regional peace and prosperity. CPEC is not about the conflict with various sides and will not affect China’s position on the Kashmir issue. It is an open initiative and welcomes various parties, Hua said.
“So, China always holds the open and inclusive attitude and we want to see the participation of more parties and to bring more impetus to the region and to the world and prosperity to development to more and more countries,” she said.
“So, China welcomes the participation of India into the belt Belt and Road initiative,” she said.
Facts about the initiative have shown that the Belt and Road project responded to the trend of times and is in line with the common interests of the people, Hua said, reiterating China’s stand.
“It (Belt and Road) has bright future for development,” she said, adding that the venture received a ‘very warm response’ from the international community.
About the BRF which concluded yesterday, Hua said it built consensus, pointed direction for international cooperation, chartered course and identified action plans
“It was a successful, productive and fruitful event,” she said.
IMAGE: Chinese President Xi Jinping makes a toast during the welcoming banquet for the Belt and Road Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sunday. Photograph: Damir Sagolj/Reuters