China offers to sync its BRI with Make-in-India

New Delhi—Beijing has offered to synchronize its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet programme Make-in-India, to secure New Delhi's support for the cross-continental connectivity project.

Beijing mooted the proposal during Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan's visit to New Delhi early this week.

Zhong conveyed to his counterpart Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu that Beijing was ready to work with New Delhi to sync its BRI with Modi Government's Make-in-India and Digital India initiatives, a Hyderabad based newspaper reported .

China's proposal was apparently yet another attempt by it to secure India's support to its ambitious connectivity initiative.

New Delhi remained non-committal on Beijing's new proposal, but maintained that it was open to further discussion on it.

It was conveyed to the Chinese commerce minister that India had some "legitimate concerns" on the BRI, and it would remain open to "any effort" to address those.

The two neighbouring nations are now trying to bring their troubled ties back on track after it hit a new low with the 72-day-long military face-off at Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan in 2017.

New Delhi and Beijing lined up several engagements in the coming months, culminating with Modi's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sideline of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's summit in Qingdao on the east coast of China in June this year.

Beijing is likely to convey to New Delhi over the next few months the details of its offer for dovetailing the BRI with Make-in-India and Digital India initiatives. It may come up for discussion during Xi-Modi meeting in June, sources said.

New Delhi has since long been opposing China's BRI, arguing that the connectivity initiative should have been "based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality".

India in the past strongly criticized the BRI of China, arguing that connectivity initiatives "must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities".

India is particularly opposed to the BRI's flagship component CPEC, which will link Kashgar in Xinjiang in north-western China and a deep sea port at Gwadar in Balochistan in south-western Pakistan. New Delhi has been opposed to the CPEC corridor, as it is proposed to pass through parts of Kashmir that India claims as its own and accuses Pakistan of illegally occupying.

In view of the renewed efforts by the two nations to mend ties, New Delhi, however, may avoid criticizing the BRI as a whole in public, but limit its opposition only to the CPEC, which it says infringes on the sovereignty of India.



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