What India Thinks About China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’

A major part of China’s strategy to enhance economic and security interaction with Central Asia and the Middle East is the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. Comprised of the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the oceanic Maritime Silk Road, the initiative aims to significantly enhance connectivity across much of Eurasia. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a $46 billion dollar series of infrastructure projects with longtime ally that will eventually connect the two components of the OBOR, has raised both human rights and security concerns, and PLA troops reportedly soon to be stationed in Pakistan’s troubled Baluchistan region have sparked protest from New Delhi.

Director of Brookings Institution’s The Project Tanvi Madan reports on comments from Indian government representatives at the recent Raisina Dialogue indirectly expressing concern with Beijing’s OBOR initiative:

In three speeches over three days, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Minister of State for External Affairs (or deputy foreign minister) V.K. Singh, and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar provided the clearest exposition yet of India’s official perspective on and approach toward connectivity at home and in the region. Along the lines of policymakers’ and analysts’ comments for decades, there was talk of how connectivity can bring countries together and be mutually beneficial. But there was not much talk—as there might have once been in the region—of such relationships alleviating rivalries. Indeed, a recurring theme in the speeches was about the interplay of geopolitics and connectivity, and how much the latter could either make or break regional stability. Connectivity, once seen as helping countries transcend geopolitics, was instead identified by the foreign secretary as having “emerged as a theater of present day geopolitics.”

[…] Without once naming China, the Indian officials at the dialogue laid out Delhi’s perception of that country’s connectivity initiatives and contrasted the Chinese and Indian approaches to connectivity and the region. In her speech, the foreign minister outlined the importance of Asian connectivity and the opportunities and challenges it presents for India. She stressed, notably: “We bring to bear a cooperative rather than unilateral approach and believe that creating an environment of trust and confidence is the pre-requisite for a more inter-connected world.” (emphasis added)

[…] There were other interesting takeaways from the speeches: the assessment of India’s internal connectivity (or paucity of it); an intriguing comment that India was “no longer content to be passive recipients of outcomes” in the Middle East; the importance of thinking about connectivity as more than the building of physical infrastructure; the link between connectivity and influence; and the acknowledgement that India had to be “strategic and outcome-driven” in its own approach. But it was the “C” word left unsaid (China) as much as the “C” word that was repeatedly said (connectivity) that was striking. [Source]

The Press Trust of India relays comments from U.S. security experts claiming that China’s strategic partnership with Pakistan has long been driven by the two nations’ shared rivalry with India:

“China’s close ties with Pakistan also raise tension in the subcontinent. The China-Pakistan relationship has always been strategic in nature driven by their mutual rivalry with India,” Katherine C Tobin, commissioner of the US China Economic and Security Review Commission, said during a hearing on China in .

[…] “I think the US has taken a very hands-off approach, but there may be some room for contingency planning back here in the US if the Sino-India border disputes were to ratchet up,” Ms [Lisa] Curtis [of the Heritage Foundation] said.

“And certainly we have seen on two occasions in the last two years or three years rather, once in the spring of 2013, once in the fall of 2014, that tensions ratcheted up in terms of unusual troop movements by the Chinese PLA forces in the Ladakh region,” she said.

[…] China, she argued, seeks to build strategic and military ties with Pakistan in order to contain Indian power and to prevent India from extending its influence outward and essentially prevent it from focusing its attention and military resources towards China.

China’s relations with India are marked by mutual suspicion, said James F Moriarty, senior adviser for South Asia at Bowerr Group Asia. […] [Source]

Read more about the One Belt, One Road initiative, and China’s relations with India and Pakistan, via CDT.