Connectivity projects must follow international norms, rule of law and openness: MEA official

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New Delhi, Mar 18 (PTI) All connectivity initiatives in the region must follow universally recognised international norms, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality, a senior official in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

The comments by Riva Ganguly Das, Secretary (East) in the MEA, came against the backdrop of growing global suspicion over China's opaqueness in rolling out connectivity projects under its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

India has been severely critical of the mega project as the USD 50-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of the BRI, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

In an address at a virtual seminar on connectivity cooperation for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, Das said the promotion of connectivity in the region has certain pre-requisites to make such activity sustainable from all angles.

'The first and foremost is a common and universally applicable rules-based world order, which upholds sovereignty, territorial integrity and equality of all nations,' she said.

'Second, meaningful connectivity requires everyone to have equal access under international law to the use of global commons that would require freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law,' Das added.

She said the third aspect is that connectivity efforts in the region must be based on principles of economic viability and financial responsibility.

'All connectivity initiatives must follow universally recognised international norms, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality,' Das said.

'Fourth, connectivity initiatives that straddle national boundaries must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations. They should promote trade, not tension,' she noted.

Das said India's Indo-Pacific vision envisages a free, open and inclusive region, which embraces all nations in the region and beyond in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity She listed India's initiatives on enhancing connectivity.

'At home, India has taken several initiatives to improve physical and digital connectivity. Bharatmala Pariyojana is a new umbrella program for the highways sector that envisages building more than 80,000 km of roads with an investment of around USU 107 billion,' she said.

'Sagarmala aims at port connectivity enhancement, port-linked industrialisation, coastal community development and giving impetus to coastal shipping,' she said. PTI MPB “We bring the World to you' Disclaimer : This e-mail message may contain proprietary, confidential or legally privileged information for the sole use of the person or entity to whom this message was originally addressed. Please delete this e-mail, if it is not meant for you.