NEW DELHI: The US has lent support to India’s opposition to China’s Belt and Road Initiative saying it shares New Delhi’s concerns over the project and also questioned the rationale behind it.
“We share India’s concerns over projects that do not have any economic basis and that leads to a country ceding sovereignty,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells said. She was of the opinion that India has been crystal clear from the outset they saw the geopolitical elements of BRI.
The BRI, a pet project of Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, pass through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, which India claims to be its territory. India has opposed BRI citing grounds of territorial sovereignty.
The BRI was designed to be able to export excess labour, capital and production facilities, Wells said. “So, China was trying to solve one of its own domestic problems. It solved its domestic problems sometime at the expense of the receiving country,” she said.
She cited the example of Sri Lanka which ceded a part of its sovereign territory, formally handed over Hambantota Port to China on lease for 99 years after failing to repay debts.
Speaking on the Gwadar Port in Pakistan, Wells said its construction feeds into India’s anxiety as the commercial basis of the project is not clear. “This has been a project very long in the making and not very evident to outsiders what’s the economic rationale that drives it,” she said.