India skips China's Silk Road summit, warns of 'unsustainable' debt

China will provide assistance worth 60 billion yuan (S$12.2 billion) in the coming three years to improve people's well-being, Mr Xi said yesterday at the opening of the Belt and Road Forum.

Thus, on May 13, India did not send an official delegation to attend the "Belt and Road Forum" in Beijing and instead criticised China's global initiative, warning of an "unsustainable debt burden" for countries involved.

India has voiced displeasure at the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a Belt and Road project aimed at linking northwestern China to the Arabian Sea.

As China endeavors to push the One Belt One Road initiative off the drawing board and into reality President Xi made it clear all nations -in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas are welcome.

"In advancing the Belt and Road, we will not retread the old path of games between foes".

India delivered an implicit criticism of China's plan Saturday in a statement from its foreign ministry that said such an initiative should meet worldwide norms and not create unsustainable debt.

"He further said that it has no geographical boundaries" and it must not be politicised.

The two-day Belt and Road Forum which is being attended by leaders from 29 countries, including Pakistan, has been boycotted by India due to sovereignty concerns over the United States dollars 50 billion CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Despite China's public defense of free trade, Beijing faces mounting complaints that the government is hampering or reducing market access to foreign companies.

"It is time we transcended our differences, resolve conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy and leave a legacy of peace for future generations", he said at the event with 29 heads of states and governments and 1,500 delegates in attendance.

Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif, his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were among the world leaders who attended the high-profile meeting.

He said deep-seated problems in global development had yet to be addressed effectively, with worldwide trade and investment sluggish, and economic globalisation encountering headwinds.

The OBOR project is so vast in its scope, that it will link most Asian countries to China.

"We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy", Xi told the opening of the summit.

The project would see China build massive amounts of infrastructure worldwide to boost trade.

The Agenda seeks, among other things, to have a highly developed and interconnected continent by 2063, including railway, and initiatives such as the One Belt One Road are critical in ensuring that such targets are met.

At the forum, finance ministries from 27 countries including China approved a set of principles that will guide project financing along the new Silk Road.

China is reportedly establishing some military bases in Gilgit-Baltistan, a territory whose sovereignty is disputed, said the founder of the Gilgit-Baltistan Thinkers Forum, Wajahat Khan.

The initiative will surely bolster cooperation and stability, and help Asia become the world's new economic center of gravity, the experts said.

  • Fernando Stephens