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Sunday, May 14, 2017

India to boycott China's OBOR conference

India to boycott China's OBOR conference

New Delhi/Beijing: India has decided to boycott a two-day international conference called by China on its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, asserting that it cannot accept a project which ignores its territorial integrity.
In a strongly-worded statement issued hours before the opening of the forum in the Chinese capital, India said it has strong reservation over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as it undermines India's territorial integrity. The CPEC project is expected to figure prominently in the conference which is starting in Beijing on Sunday.
India has said the CPEC project passes through the Gilgit and Baltistan regions of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which is an integral part of the country.
"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," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in a statement.
"Regarding the so-called “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”, which is being projected as the flagship project of the BRI/OBOR, the international community is well aware of India?s position. No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said.
Noting that India has received a formal invitation to participate in the six separate forums that China is organising as part of the BRF, he said India is of the firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality.
"Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long-term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities," Baglay said.
Asserting that India shares international community?s desire for enhancing physical connectivity, the ministry said it believes that it should bring greater economic benefits to all in an equitable and balanced manner.
The spokesperson also noted that India was working with many countries and international institutions in support of physical and digital connectivity in its immediate and near neighbourhood.

He also said that expansion and strengthening of connectivity is an integral part of India?s economic and diplomatic initiatives and observed that under the ?Act East? policy, it was pursuing the Trilateral Highway project; under its ?Neighbourhood First? policy.

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