China irked over Indian objection to the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI)

India object to BRI
Prime Minister Modi & Chinese Premiere Xi Jinping (Photo: PTI)

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) recently, concluded its 23rd summit under the presidency of India. The virtual summit dealt with various issues like terrorism and repercussions of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. However, soon after the summit, the strategic experts based in China have started to blow off the fuse.

Actually, in the New Delhi Declaration of the SCO summit, India once again refrained from signing a paragraph endorsing Chinese BRI project. Last year in Samarkand Declaration also India refused to sign the BRI endorsing paragraph. It is worth mentioning here that India is the only country in the SCO that has refused to endorse BRI (Belt Road Initiative).

China’s Actual Problem – India’s Objection To Bloc Politics

Following the SCO virtual summit, various Chinese strategic experts have now started targeting India for this particular blow to their nation’s hegemonic dream. But it is not the first time that voices of India’s oppositions have been raised in Beijing. After 12 years of its status as Observer country, in 2017, India finally became a member of the SCO. At that time also, India’s membership to the group was opposed by the Strategic affairs community of Chinese government, the reason being India’s closeness to the west especially NATO.  

As per a report by Indian Express, a Shanghai based Chinese scholar, Pa Guang recenty wrote an article in which he said, “Many scholars, including me, and former ambassadors and diplomats, opposed India’s entry into the SCO. But the government in Beijing made the decision.” He tries to explain how in 2005 Hu Jinato, the then President told Indian leaders that SCO would prove to be a new platform for solving Sino-India disputes and India used SCO for targeting China.

Well! First of all, the real problem for China has never been India’s closeness to western countries instead it is India’s belief in neutrality that is the real problem. China wanted India in SCO to make it a heavyweight counter bloc against US led West. But this Chinese intention got a serious blow by the more proactive Indian foreign policy that solely centered around its national interest.   

Some Chinese observers also believe that it was Moscow’s insistence that led to India’s accession into the group because Moscow wanted to curb Chinese dominance by keeping Beijing between Indian and Russian influence. Another reason for Russia’s insistence was to counter the Chinese lobbying for accession of Pakistan into SCO.

Lame Arguments and Naive Demands!

In a series of clamouring over Chinese disgrace on BRI, some Chinese scholars have even asked Beijing to introduce an “Exit Mechanism” to impose constrains on member country. In their argument, they cite PM Modi successful state visit to the US.  Clearly, this is a lame argument and a naïve demand.  China must understand that relation with US have nothing to do with the SCO. The only bone of contention in the SCO is Chinese efforts to sabotage the grouping for its own interest and jeopardizing potential of the group by making it an entirely anti-US bloc.

Regarding BRI, India’s stand is justified and balanced as China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of the BRI passes through the Indian territory of Gilgit-Baltistan which is illegally occupied by Pakistan. So, by concluding a bilateral infrastructure project deal on the disputed territory, China has already jeopardized the legitimacy of its BRI project. In that case a sovereign country like India has full right to oppose such project on every platform possible. It is high time that instead of searching for the issues of conflict with India, China initiates a genuine approach of solving the hot issues  between both the countries starting with giving up on CPEC.

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