Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

India cool on Beijing summit as 'Silk Road' stirs unease

"When we look at the Belt and Road Initiative, we see a very important contribution to this solidarity in addressing global problems with worldwide cooperation, where China plays a very central role", said Guterres in an interview with several UN-based Chinese media outlets earlier this week.

He viewed that President Xi's visionary initiative of "One Belt-One Road", CPEC was not only a "game-changer" for Pakistan, but also for the entire region.

"In my view, Belt and Road is meant to create greater economic interdependence between China and its neighbours, which Beijing hopes will translate into increased political influence", said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

"China's construction of the Belt and Road Initiative is not to make a new start, but to connect development strategies of different countries and complement each other's advantages".

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday, May 14, is set to join a summit that aims to promote China's massive global trade infrastructure project, highlighting Beijing's ambitions to spearhead a new era of globalization as Washington shifts toward inward-looking policies.

The B and Road initiative should be built into a road for peace, as the pursuit of the initiative requires a peaceful and stable environment, Xi told the forum attended by 29 heads of state and government besides representatives of over 100 countries and worldwide organisations. He said in implementing this Corridor, we are not striving to merely leverage geography for economic prosperity; we are also trying to build a peaceful, connected and caring neighbourhood.

"No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity", the statement said.

Xi did not address the North Korean missile launch at the start of the summit, but Beijing has warned its communist ally in recent months to avoid any new missile or nuclear tests.

Asked about the invitation to North Korea to attend, Anna Richey-Allen, a spokeswoman for the US State Department's East Asia Bureau, said the United States expected China to push its neighbor to return to "serious talks" on denuclearisation.

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Xi said China would contribute 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) to the Silk Road Fund, which was set up in 2014 to finance infrastructure projects and provide aid worth 60 billion yuan ($8.7 billion) to developing countries and global organizations taking part in the initiative to revive the ancient trade route.

On top of that, China said it would also offer 60 billion yuan in development assistance to countries participating in OBOR over the next three years. In one series of state-sponsored videos touting the forum, Erik Nilsson, an American journalist at China Daily, explained the importance of "One Belt, One Road" to his daughter as a series of bedtime stories.

Also China will encourage financial institutions to conduct overseas RMB fund business with an estimated amount of 300 billion yuan (about United States $43.5 billion), Xi said.

For many, the project still seems largely China-centric.

The spat over North Korea threatens to overshadow the summit, China's most important diplomatic event of the year for an initiative championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prior to their meeting on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Saturday, May 13, 2017.

In the last few days, China has tried to assuage India's feelings by asserting that the commercial corridor will not have any impact on its stand that the Kashmir issue should be settled by India and Pakistan through dialogue.

"(TPP was) an economic complement to military planning in the South China Sea", he said, while OBOR puts China "in the driving seat".

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