India to boycott Belt and Road summit over CPEC concerns

Arun Jaitley had earlier said that India has ‘serious reservations’ about China’s ambitious project that aims to connect Asia with Europe and Africa

PM Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during the G20 summit, last year. Pic/AFP
PM Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during the G20 summit, last year. Pic/AFP

India is likely to boycott China's Belt and Road Forum (BRF) beginning today in view of sovereignty concerns related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the initiative that is expected to figure prominently in the two-day meet.

While there is no official word with the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi declining to comment, informed sources said, India might not take part in BRF.

The likely boycott will leave India in a tight spot as China in the last few days has managed to rope in even the US, which on Friday agreed to send a top official after Washington clinched a lucrative trade deal.

"It is a tricky situation for In­d­ia because it cannot get any diplomatic dividend by attending it. On the contrary, it may be embarrassing for the Indian delegation to sit through the programme when CPEC is highlighted and it may have to walk out," a scholar attending the BRF meeting said on the condition of anonymity.

Last week, Union Defence and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that India has "serious reservations" about China's massive connectivity project that aims to build a trade and infrastructure network linking Asia with Europe and Africa.

A number of other countries, including South Korea, France, Germany and UK, have deputed either ministerial or official delegations. Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of 29 countries will be at the summit.

A year of discord
India's decision to skip the meet comes after a year of bilateral discord over Chi­na's opposition to India's entry into the NSG and a UN ban against JeM leader Masood Azhar. Chi­na, too, protested India's decision to permit the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh.

29
No. of heads of state attending the summit

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