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Posted at: Apr 16, 2019, 7:05 AM; last updated: Apr 16, 2019, 7:05 AM (IST)

China plays down ‘boycott’ of BRF by India

Beijing, April 15

China on Monday played down India’s reported plans to boycott the upcoming second Belt and Road Forum (BRF), saying India may have misunderstood the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China suggested to New Delhi to “wait and see” before taking a decision.

The BRI is a multi-billion dollar initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013. It aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes. China is expected to hold the second BRF meeting from April 25 to 27 here. Beijing has already said that officials of over 100 countries, besides 40 government leaders, have agreed to take part in it.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that the BRI is an economic cooperation project and it does not involve territorial disputes. “The Indian comments are on not participating in the BRI for various reasons. I would like to say that the BRI is an open and inclusive economic cooperation initiative. It does not involve territorial and maritime disputes,” he said.

The $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which has been officially designated as a flagship project of the BRI, has become a stumbling block for India to take part in it as the controversial project is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India has already protested to China over the CPEC violating its sovereignty and boycotted the first BRF held in 2017.

Asked for comments on India’s reported plans to boycott the second BRF, Kang said, “Whether the Indian side will participate in the BRI forum...I think you need to ask India for a more specific answer.”

In BRI, China and other counties uphold the principle of equality, openness, inclusiveness and transparency, he added. “I think maybe some sides have misunderstandings on the BRI and thus have some wrong judgement. Please know that China follows the principle of cooperation and consultation for shared benefit and those principles will not change.”

Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri has signalled India’s boycott of the second BRF as well by saying that “to be honest, we have made no secret of our views and our position on BRI is clear and consistent and one that we have conveyed to the authorities concerned.” — PTI


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