Qingdao: The Indian Prime Minister warned, ‘No project should challenge the sovereignty and integrity of any country,’ and took a strong stance against the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) programme. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is a part of the BRI programme passes through the Pakistan occupied Kashmir, which India has claimed to be its territory. India, therefore, decided not to support the Chinese programme in the the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit. India is the only country taking such a stance at the SCO which is established through Chinese initiative.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the SCO summit before which he had bilateral discussions with the Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mutual cooperation agreements were signed during these discussions. But while addressing the SCO summit, Prime Minister Modi opposed the BRI programme without any direct mention. The Prime Minister clarified that no project should challenge the integrity and sovereignty of any country. Modi asserted that India is not opposed to any projects connecting the countries in the region, except this project. He also mentioned about the ambitious projects undertaken by India.
All the countries in the SCO, except India, have supported the Chinese BRI programme. Thus, the differences on this issue between India and the Chinese sponsored SCO have been exposed. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi presented the ‘SECURE’ concept in the meeting. The concept includes civilian security, economic development, connecting countries through infrastructural development, unity, respecting each other’s sovereignty and environmental protection. Prime Minister Modi evidently indicated that India will continue to oppose the Chinese project challenging the Indian sovereignty.
Meanwhile, the joint statement released by the SCO has supported the Chinese BRI project, but it is seen that India has taken an entirely different stand. China has already been trying to pressurise India to accept the project. While addressing the SCO summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping tried to deliver a blow to India by saying that the SCO member countries should give up the cold war mentality. Nevertheless, China being fully aware that India will not change its stand, has not tried to exert any further pressure on it.
The Indian Prime Minister, while speaking at the summit, praised the bold steps taken by the Afghanistan government to establish peace in their country.