India to Skip One Belt, One Road, OBOR summit in China

OBORIndia will skip the two day grand OBOR summit organised by China to showcase its plans to build a network of trade routes under the One Belt, One Road (OBOR). OBOR is an ambitious China’s ambitious development strategy and framework that aims to boost its connectivity and trade that will that will connect Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. It was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. The summit is expected to be attended by nearly 65 countries. However, only 20 heads of state is expected to attend the summit.

The US and Japan who were initially reluctant to attend the summit have decided to send a representative at the last minute. India, however, has refused to send any representative owing to sovereignty concerns related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).   The countries like Russia, South Korea, France, Germany and UK will send either ministerial or official delegations to the summit. As far as india’s neighbours are concerned, Pakistan is sending the largest delegation consisting of four chief ministers and five federal ministers.

Others like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives will also have official representations. Bhutan will not participate as it has no diplomatic relations with China.   India’s Concerns China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is a 3000 km project connecting Pakistan’s deep-water port Gwadar and China’s Xinjiang falls under the OBOR initiative of China. The CPEC passes through Gilgit-Baltistan region of the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.

The Chinese presence in the disputed region has raised sovereignty concerns for India. The Gwadar Port offers China to have its naval presence in the Arabian Sea and to the Indian Ocean. Already, China has plans to station its marines in Djibouti in Horn of Africa in Indian Ocean. The other projects under the OBOR in South and South East Asia also have security implications for India. Unlike India, none of the other countries have sovereignty related issues with OBOR summit.

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