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'A foreign policy disaster': What Indian papers say about Modi's boycott of OBOR

Updated May 16, 2017 12:48pm

As dozens of world leaders arrived in Beijing to attend the “Belt and Road Forum" hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, India refused to send an official delegation to the summit.

India has maintained that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor - a flagship project of the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative ─ is a violation of its sovereignty and therefore, cannot be accepted. India remains particularly incensed that projects under CPEC cut through the Gilgit-Baltistan region.

Three major Indian news publications in their editorials or opeds have largely criticised India's refusal to attend the summit in Beijing, calling it a failure the country's foreign policy and diplomacy.

Others maintained that India's reservations regarding Beijing's OBOR initiative are valid.

OBOR is the grandest failure of Indian foreign policy: Indian Express

A screenshot of the editorial by Indian Express
A screenshot of the editorial by Indian Express

"India’s objection to CPEC is extremely valid, but the moot point remains that we were not able to carry any of the big powers on the vital question of Westphalian sovereignty.

"The One Belt One Road conference convened by the People’s Republic of China over the weekend to unveil and showcase the most ambitious connectivity project of modern times represents the grandest failure of Indian foreign policy and it’s quarantine into splendid isolation.

"By boycotting the summit rather than showing up and making our voice heard loud and clear in the comity of nations, India has in fact sent out a message that it will make proforma noise on this issue but actually acquiesce to the fait accompli."

India cannot sit out: The Hindu

"[India's] concerns are no doubt valid, and the refusal to join the [OBOR initiative] till China addresses the objection over Gilgit-Baltistan is understandable. The decision to not attend even as an observer, however, effectively closes the door for diplomacy. It stands in contrast to countries such as the U.S. and Japan, which are not a part of the B&RI but sent official delegations."

"It must actively engage with China to have its particular grievances addressed, articulate its concerns to other partner countries in a more productive manner, and take a position as an Asian leader, not an outlier in the quest for more connectivity."

India strikes out for its own interest: Times of India

India has undertaken an uncharacteristically bold foreign policy move by refusing to participate in the OBOR summit in Beijing, meant to be China’s grand coming out globalisation party.

It may, in fact, be salient for New Delhi and MEA to study Chinese negotiation technique over the last three or four decades and imbibe some of it, especially when it comes to negotiating with Beijing itself."

India has its reasons: Hindustan Times

A screenshot of Hindustan Times' editorial page.
A screenshot of Hindustan Times' editorial page.

"India has emerged as the most vocal opponent of China’s continent-spanning infrastructure project. The reasons for New Delhi’s scepticism about the Belt-Road Initiative may not seem evident. They become clear, however, when seen through the prism of geopolitics.

It is increasingly difficult to buy Beijing’s arguments that their plan to splash a few trillion dollars around the world is a benign gift to the world.

In any case, India has never said it would try to undermine or block Chinese projects in other countries — merely that it would not be signing up for the initiative. It remains an open question why Beijing is so insistent that India endorse the BRI, especially given that it has seen fit to turn against New Delhi in almost every other international fora including the Nuclear Suppliers Group."

The Business Standard took a similar positions, saying India's caution on OBOR is well founded.

"India should be cautious about participating in other components of the OBOR as well," the publication's editorial reads.