New Delhi: India on Sunday refused to endorse Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project as part of a joint declaration at the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Qingdao, the only member in the eight-nation bloc to do so.
The move at India’s first summit as a full SCO member was taken in line with New Delhi’s policy of not compromising on territorial issues, top sources in the government said.
India has termed OBOR, also called the Silk Road project, as a threat to its sovereignty over concerns on its flagship project — the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The 3,000-km CPEC is aimed at connecting China and Pakistan with rail, road, pipelines and optical fibre cable networks.
It will connect Xinjiang province with Gwadar port, providing China with access to the Arabian Sea. The project, when completed, would enable China to route its oil supplies from the Middle East through pipelines to Xinjiang, cutting considerable distance for Chinese ships to travel to China.
India had also stayed clear of the joint communique by member countries during the foreign ministers’ meet in Beijing in April this year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the 18th SCO Summit in Qingdao over the weekend, marking India’s first participation as a full member of the grouping.
Modi held a bilateral meeting with Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit and shook hands with Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain.
At the restricted session of the SCO Summit, Modi floated the concept of SECURE: ‘S’ for security for citizens, ‘E’ for economic development, ‘C’ for connectivity in the region, ‘U’ for unity, ‘R’ for respect of sovereignty and integrity, and ‘E for environment protection.
“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.
Welcoming India and Pakistan’s entry as full members of the SCO, host Xi said the participation of the two neighbours would add to the grouping’s strength.