NEW DELHI: China does not want to overstep into India’s sphere of influence by bringing Sri Lanka and Maldives into the maritime New Silk Road, according to an official of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
“We don’t want to get into India’s sphere,” said Luan Jianzhang, Deputy Director General of Policy Research Office at the CPC Central Committee’s International Department. The International Department is mainly concerned with overseeing relations with foreign political parties.
Luan, who is here to take part in an international two-day conference, pointed out that the ‘Maritime Silk Road’ initiative “was a strategic economic project”. He denied that there was any security element, for now.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Sri Lanka and Maldives, both countries had given their support to the initiative, which has been described as a project to revive ancient trading links and increase economic cooperation.
This had however raised eyebrows in India, which has been watching China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean Region with wariness. When asked about India’s role in the Silk Road initiative, Luan pointed out that New Delhi is part of the BCIM corridor, which looks at setting up a trade route from North-East India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China.
Indicating that China was very enthusiastic about BCIM, he also acknowledged that India may have some concerns. “India has some concerns so we are going project by project, slowly, so that all issues are clarified,” he said.
On Indian concerns that Chinese goods will flood the North-East market if this route is opened, Luan said, “If Chinese goods would enter India, Indian goods will also find market in China which will bring down the trade deficit”.