New Delhi: India refused to endorse Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s flagship project at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit’s Bishkek declaration on Friday, reiterating New Delhi’s strong objection to Beijing’s ambitious global connectivity programme.
At the SCO summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi maintained India’s stand that connectivity projects should be "transparent" and "inclusive". PM Modi added that the "territorial integrity" of countries “should be respected”.
Barring India, all other members of the SCO, especially the Central Asian states, signed on for President Xi Jinping’s project.
“The Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan reaffirm their support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative and praise the results of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (which was held in April 26),” the Bishkek Declaration on BRI said.
However, the SCO members — India, Pakistan, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — to "expand the practice of using national currencies in transactions" between themselves.
Since the inception of the BRI, India has been raising its concerns as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which comprises major part of the project, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
The declaration noted that ongoing work to implement BRI includes efforts to align Eurasian Economic Union projects with those under China’s initiative.
In a subtle snub to China, PM Modi emphasised on the importance of better connectivity, but added that such initiatives must be based on “respect for sovereignty, regional integrity, good governance, transparency...and reliability”.
Moreover, the SCO summit saw convergence on terrorism with the declaration saying "member states, stressing that acts of terrorism and extremism cannot be justified, believe it important to take comprehensive measures to intensify efforts against terrorism and its ideology".
New Delhi has always maintained that CPEC will have serious security implications for India as it includes highways that could facilitate the rapid movement of Pakistani troops.