India on Sunday again said “no” to China’s Belt and Road project, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain merely shook hands on the final day of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Qingdao city.
India, which participated at the Chinese-led security bloc for the first time after being inducted into the grouping last year, did not figure in the list of rest of the member states endorsing Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative in the joint declaration.
Earlier in the day, Modi made it clear that New Delhi was all for connectivity projects but could not compromise its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
India strongly opposes Beijing’s multi-billion dollar project, which aims to connect Asia with Europe through a network of roads, ports and sea lanes.
New Delhi’s objection is to the key artery of the project – the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which goes through the Kashmir governed by Pakistan and claimed by India.
“We have again reached a stage where physical and digital connectivity is changing the definition of geography. Therefore, connectivity with our neighbourhood and in the SCO region is our priority,” Modi said.
“We welcome any new connectivity project, which is inclusive, sustainable and transparent, and respects a country’s sovereignty and regional integrity,” he said at one of the sessions at the Summit.
This is one of the contentious issues between India and China but both seem to have decided not to let it affect other aspects of bilateral ties.
Like India, Pakistan also became a member of the SCO in 2017 and attended the event for the first time.