China dismisses India's apprehensions on Silk Road projects
China on Tuesday dismissed any apprehensions in India on its ambitious multi-billion dollar Silk Road projects stretching across continents to build infrastructure and improve connectivity with the avowed aim of expansion of trade and development. It also sought to assure India that there are benefits for countries joining the projects envisaged under the One Belt and One Road (OBOR) unveiled by President Xi Jinping two years ago. “There are some media which say China is in an expansion mode and damaging the world. The key objective of OBOR is to share benefits with all countries involved with China, the second largest economy in the world,” Liu Yunshan, the fifth ranking member of the powerful Standing Committee of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) said. He was answering a question on apprehensions in India about the OBOR projects that they may undermine India's strategic economic and security interests. Strategic experts in India are divided with some favouring that it should join the projects to reap the benefits while others view them with suspicion. The OBOR comprises the entire periphery of the Indian subcontinent, including Pakistan, and also that seeks to connect the east with the west through the central Asian region. Liu was interacting with a select group of top editors from international news organisations which had come to participate in the media cooperation forum on the OBOR organised by CPC's organ, People's Daily, the largest Chinese newspaper. The meeting was held at the Great Hall of the People. India has not officially commented on the OBOR in its full form. Replies to questions in Parliament on the project always elicited the line that India has taken note of it. India is silent on the implementation of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) in the Indian Ocean region. New Delhi has objected to the $46 billion China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as it goes though the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) but is taking part in the Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor. In order to implement the projects, China has set up a $40 billion Silk Road Fund and floated the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with a subscribed capital of $50 billion. India and 56 other countries are members of the Beijing-based AIIB. The OBOR initiative was proposed by Xi during his visit to Indonesia two years ago and stressed upon it when he visited Pakistan this year. “After this framework of this initiative was unveiled, may be some people could not understand why China has started this. The initiative is a combination of time and space. Its coverage is very wide. And from the perspective of time, it is a sense of history just like it is relevant in modern time. It also looks at the future,” Liu said. He said the proposal of this strategic initiative also reflected the international and domestic situation of China. Liu said a number of countries have supported this initiative, which is already under way. Over the years China's businesses have gone global. He said the financial crisis of 2008 happened in one country but had its impact throughout the world, reflecting the problem in a globalised economy. “In today's world there is no country which can prosper alone. OBOR is closely related to various countries and that is why we stress on openness, inclusiveness and development,” he said. He said in ancient time the Silk Road had touched different civilisations promoting friendship and also crossing areas with various culture and religions like Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. “The OBOR initiative is therefore is an accord in time and space. China is a $10 trillion economy and its size is growing. Therefore the golden road is an opportunity for common win-win results for all countries.” Liu referred to China's reformist leader Deng Xiaoping, who chose peace and development in the aftermath of Mao Zedong in 1980s when he launched his reforms programme for economic development. “Thereafter we have experienced fastest economic growth in more than three decades during which China has become the second largest economy of the world,” he said adding peace and development are closely related. “In the world there have been wars and there is a problem of terrorism. People are living in extreme poverty and China has been consistent on the issue of development,” he said. On the media scene, he said President Xi told international media baron Rupert Murdoch that China is open for foreign media. “We welcome world media. They can come to China. If they want to go to some areas we will facilitate them on their request.” Besides its vast print and electronic media, he said China has 800 million internet users and equal number of mobile users.
September 22, 2015 | 4:52pm IST.