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India and OBOR

Context

  • China advocated India to shed its objections to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and take benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

What is OBOR?

  • The most ambitious project of Xi Jinping announced in year 2013 is referred to as One Belt One Road.
  • There are 2 components of this initiative: the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (exhibit
  • The Silk Road Economic Belt is envisioned as three routes connecting China to Europe (via Central Asia), the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean (through West Asia), and the Indian Ocean (via South Asia).
  • The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is planned to create connections among regional waterways.
  • It focuses on improving connectivity among Asian countries Africa, China and Europe.
  • The main crux is to grow land routes as well as maritime routes.
  • The policy is significant to China as it aims to boost its deistic growth.
  • China’s uses OBOR as a strategy for economic diplomacy.

What is the Significance of OBOR?

  • Creating an infrastructure and providing connectivity to foster economic cooperation as partners in development are the explicit objectives. Its implicit objectives include both economic and political.
  • OBOR could help earn higher returns on surplus savings or capital exports and it could provide a new source of external demand.
  • It could use the excess capacities in railways, steel, metals and cement, to provide work for their construction companies, while using their experience of infrastructure projects.
  • OBOR is a means of extending political spheres of influence, mostly in Africa at present, to South East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia. It is about buying regional leadership in the quest for hegemony.
  • It is a stepping stone for China’s aspirations of global leadership by creating a rival to the transatlantic economic area with the US at its apex.
  • OBOR should make the world recognize the global aspirations of China.

What is China-Pakistan economic cooperation?

  • China-Pakistan cooperation projects are focused on four areas:
  • Energy projects, transport infrastructure, Gwadar Port, and industrial cooperation.
  • Major energy projects include construction of a 300 megawatt solar power plant by Chinese company Synergy, and work has already started on more than half of the remaining sixteen planned energy projects.
  • In terms of transport infrastructure, reconstruction and upgrade works of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) within Pakistan are underway
  • The construction of the Karachi-Lahore Motorway also started this March.
  • For the development of Gwadar Port, on November 11, 2015, Pakistan handed over 280 hectares of land use rights to a Chinese company for a term of forty-three years, and construction on new facilities is already underway.
  • Chinese projects in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor already employ more than 6,000 Pakistani workers, showing that the close relationship between China and Pakistan has already moved from the policy announcement to the project implementation stage.
  • The amount of funds involved, the depth of the exchanges, and the number of people participating is unprecedented in relations between these two countries.

How is it a threat to India?

  • For India, to be a part of OBOR or to not be, has been a dilemma for some year but in May the government decided not to.
  • The decision appears to be strong keeping sovereignty as the main agenda upfront.
  • Being part of OBOR would have raised several questions on connectivity, financial responsibility, transparency and the environment.
  • CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) already runs through the Indian Territory illegally occupied by Pakistan, signing OBOR at such violations would be disrespectful towards our own sovereignty.
  • It poses a major security threat to India as Beijing is trying to encircle New Delhi by undertaking construction projects in the neighbouring countries
  • Joining OBOR can give legitimacy to the alleged state-sponsored terrorism from Pakistan,that can now spread to the rest of J&K.
  • China is trying to connect railway lines to Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh primarily with a view to further create far greater difficulty for India from the security point of view

Is there any benefit if India joins OBOR?

  • The initiative can be a great boost for employment and labor movementprospects for India, which is facing chronic unemployment crisis in Eastern part which can be truly unlocked by this initiative.
  • India can join the maritime trade route with China and help solve its crude oil needs.
  • It could be an opportunity to join the maritime trade routewith China that can help solve India’s crude oil needs.

How can India counter OBOR? What is the way ahead?

  • India should ramp internal connectivity.
  • It should modernize connectivity across its land and maritime frontiers with neighbouring countries.
  • India must work with countries like China did with Japan and multilateral institutions to develop regional connectivity in the Indian Subcontinent and beyond.
  • India’s vision document on ASIA- AFRICA GROWTH CORRIDOR can be a good front.
  • India and Japan has launched their own infrastructure development projects to balance OBOR- GREAT WALL.
  • There is proposed corridor Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar-Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC) involving four nations and has generated much interests as well as concerns.
  • BCIM agenda is transforming landlocked and underdeveloped border regions of the countries involved, the latter pays more attention to the strategic implications it might have on the region.
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