SINGAPORE: India should leave its bilateral disputes with China aside and join the Beijing-backed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a Chinese scholar has said.
“We will keep the door open on India’s participation in the BRI. China has repeatedly extended invitations to India to be part of the BRI,” said Associate Professor Huang Yunsong, Associate Dean, Sichuan University School of International Studies.
“But India is not interested in BRI at this stage,” he told PTI after addressing a BRI symposium in Singapore on Monday.
He pointed out the number of disputes between China and India, but stressed these should not be used against the BRI.
Touted as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious project, the One Belt One Road initiative focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among Asian countries, Africa, China and Europe.
The BRI also included the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which India opposed as it goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
“There are a lot of issues between India-China since 1947, such as the China Pakistan relationship,” he said. Among others issues, there were growing trade imbalance between the two countries, Dokalam border situation, Tibet and Dalai Lama, he pointed out.
“China has an agreement with Pakistan that it will not back any side in their (disputed) claims on Kashmir. It is between Pakistan and India,” stressed Huang who is well versed on China-South Asia issues.
But he also noted the positive points, for India and China having agreed to work on border disputes at its own pace while taking a more cooperative approach in pursuing economic activities between the two countries.
He called on India to offer more favourable terms for Chinese investments as a way forward to manage the trade deficit.
According to figures, India’s trade deficit with China was USD 51.08 billion in 2016-17.
Huang also called for removal of tax-based restriction on exports of Indian iron ore and cotton to China.
“India should remove restrictions on Iron ore and cotton for export to China. China may allow pharmaceutical imports,” said Huang, who is also the Coordinator, Centre for South Asian Studies at Sichuan University of China.