Beijing: China’s media said on Wednesday that Beijing would welcome India joining the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative but “would not beg” Delhi or accede to its requests.
“We are willing to see the initiative help build up a cooperation platform for countries along the route, but China does not need to beg any countries, Japan and India included, to join the initiative,” said a commentary published Wednesday in the hawkish Global Times tabloid, written by its reporter Hu Weijia.
The article was published in the English-language edition which is aimed at a foreign audience and often makes provocative arguments. The paper is published by the official People’s Daily and is known to take hard-line positions that represent sections of the party but aren’t necessarily official positions.
The commentary said OBOR was “open and inclusive and any countries, Japan and India included, are welcome to join”, but added “that does not mean that China needs to agree to any requests they might have”.
India’s primary concern about the initiative is the “flagship” China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) leg that runs through Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Despite this concern, an OBOR white paper in May declared CPEC as a flagship project.
Wednesday’s article, mainly aimed at Japan’s decision to attend the Belt and Road Forum which left India as the only major absentee, said that with “more than 60 countries covered in the initiative” the OBOR plan “will develop well, with or without Japan’s participation”.
“China would be pleased to see Japan’s inclusion,” it said, “but no concessions will be made by China on matters of principle to ingratiate Tokyo.”
Another commentary in the same paper said New Delhi was “over-concerned about Beijing’s intentions”, referring to concern in India over two Chinese helicopters seen in Indian airspace near the border in Barahoti. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India would take up the matter, even as the PLA maintained that its military activities were “on its side of the border”.
The article said, “New Delhi still views the bilateral relationship with China from the lens of geopolitics and regards Beijing as a strategic rival. Every time China reaches out to strengthen cooperation with countries regarded by India as within its sphere of influence, India worries the cooperation is deliberately targeting it.”
“The reality is China’s expanding cooperation is driven by China’s economic growth,” it added. “In fact, more and more Chinese enterprises are interested in investing in India. If New Delhi can understand China’s connectivity initiative from the perspective of regional development, this will help enhance mutual trust between the two countries.”
The paper said “strengthening mutual trust” was a prerequisite for ties and “more consultations are needed to handle border disputes”.