India skips China's Silk Road summit, warns of 'unsustainable' debt

Published: May 14, 2017
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A paramilitary policemen secures the venue of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

A paramilitary policemen secures the venue of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI: India has not sent an official delegation to attend the “Belt and Road Forum” in Beijing and instead criticized China’s global initiative, warning of an “unsustainable debt burden” for countries involved.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is hosting dozens of world leaders and senior officials on Sunday for the country’s biggest diplomatic showcase of the year, touting his vision of a new “Silk Road” that opens trade routes across the globe.

Government officials from New Delhi did not travel, Indian officials said, although scholars from Indian think-tanks have flown to Beijing to attend some of the meetings at the forum.

China stresses security needs for new Silk Road initiative

Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay, asked whether New Delhi was participating in the summit, said India could not accept a project that compromised its sovereignty.

India is incensed that one of the key Belt and Road projects passes through Pakistan.

“No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Baglay said.

Ambition to meet reality as China gathers world for Silk Road summit

He also warned of the danger of debt. One of the criticisms of the Silk Road plan is that host countries may struggle to pay back loans for huge infrastructure projects being carried out and funded by Chinese companies and banks.

“Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities,” Baglay said.

New Delhi’s criticism of the Belt and Road initiative came as Xi pledged $124 billion to the plan, and called for the abandonment of old models based on rivalry and diplomatic power games.

Leaders from 29 countries and ministerial delegates from many more are attending the forum in Beijing, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Baglay said India supported greater connectivity across the region and listed the initiatives it was involved in, including highway projects and the North-South corridor in Central Asia, but he said these had to be developed in a transparent manner.

“We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality,” he said in a statement.

As well as the corridor through Pakistan, India is worried more broadly about China’s economic and diplomatic expansion through Asia, and in particular across countries and waterways that it considers to be its sphere of influence.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Siri Ram
    May 14, 2017 - 1:44PM

    The that one PhuPhoo who iz always UnHappy.Recommend

  • Asim
    May 14, 2017 - 1:46PM

    Now who is more isolated and cornered?Recommend

  • salman
    May 14, 2017 - 2:26PM

    Text book isolation for poor India.Recommend

  • Ghazal
    May 14, 2017 - 3:43PM

    I don’t know whether my Pakistani brothers can understand this. Indians are in need of jobs we cant afford to lose our jobs to imported manpower , in return for high risk loans. We don’t have such a big heart.Recommend

  • PakPower
    May 14, 2017 - 3:47PM

    Indians complaining CPEC is a lose-lose situation for Pakistan as it basically involves borrowing from China to pay Chinese workers and firms. Well, I am a Pakistani chemical engineer and I work at Sahiwal Coal Power Plant (a CPEC project). The engineering team mix is 60% Pakistani and 40% Chinese. We were even sent to a free 8 month training in China on Huaneng Shandong’s plants/institutes. So, yeah, so much for no jobs for Pakistanis.Recommend

  • LOL
    May 14, 2017 - 3:50PM

    Expectations: india will isolate Pakistan.
    Reality: India isolating itself, when it fails terribly at isolating Pakistan.Recommend

  • Maj gaurav arya
    May 14, 2017 - 4:16PM

    Feel sorry for IndiaRecommend

  • rustam
    May 14, 2017 - 4:30PM

    While China’s initiative calls for the abandonment of old models based on rivalry and diplomatic power games, India has chosen an obvious recipe for SELF ISOLATION just for vengeance in heart for Pakistan. All other talks are mere hollow arguments.Recommend

  • wiserneighbour
    May 14, 2017 - 8:13PM

    I pity the guys who says this is a loss for India.There are few case studies where chinese development implemented in Srilanka and south Africa.Not only these projects turned loss making and Unviable,these countries are in eternal debt trap of China.India spends around 110 to 120 billion dollars annually, on infrastructure with 100% Indian labourers and technology.Recommend

  • Ahmar Khan
    May 15, 2017 - 1:51AM

    Development of infrastructure and transit route will always create more jobs than not developing the infrastructure in the first place.Will it create more revenue than the interest rate? That is not certain, but it is expected that it will generate enough profits and revenues to be able to pay back the loans.Recommend

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