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Self imposed isolationism

Self imposed isolationism
Highlights

India boycotting Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation recently held in Beijing is increasingly seen as self-imposed isolationism from the emerging international order.

India boycotting Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation recently held in Beijing is increasingly seen as self-imposed isolationism from the emerging international order. This ambitious initiative aims at linking countries and regions representing 60 per cent of the world's population and 30 per cent of the global GDP. As many as 28 heads of States/governments and representatives from 100 nations besides international organisations like IMF, World Bank and UNO participated in the Beijing forum.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) envisages a number of roads, railway lines and ports that will connect major economic centres in China via various routes with Europe. This aims at rediscovering the ancient network of trade routes through which trade in silk was conducted. This historic silk route connected Asian continent from East to West, from Japan and the Korean peninsula to the Mediterranean.

The BRI is geographically structured along six corridors and a maritime route. The six corridors run from Western China to Western Russia; from Northern China to Eastern Russia via Mongolia; from Western China to Turkey via Central and West Asia; from Southern China to Singapore via Indochina; from South-western China to and through Pakistan; and, from Southern China to India via Bangladesh and Myanmar. The “Maritime Silk Road” will run from coastal China to the Mediterranean via Singapore–Malaysia, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Strait of Hormuz, etc.

India annoyed by the Chinese motives refrained from this initiative. Such an approach of isolating itself due to bilateral concerns is certainly unbecoming of a nation that aspires to compete for global leadership. India is justifiably worried over Chinese recent aggressive moves, especially over Arunachal Pradesh. China's lukewarm response to the terror in South Asia and its military nexus with Pakistan are certainly genuine concerns of New Delhi.

It's also a fact that China is determined to consolidate its geopolitical and economic competitive advantage to reposition itself as a serious contender for global leadership. The BRI is, therefore, a strategic move by Beijing to checkmate US hegemony over the world, especially Washington's attempts to encircle it with its policy of pivot to Asia roping in Japan, Australia and India.

Despite all this, how far is it prudent to stay away from a global initiative though it is China –led? Despite India's concerns, China could steer through the gigantic initiative. Even the US delegation attended the forum and the White House expressed its willingness to work with China under the BRI calling it a major trade initiative.

Yet another concern of India is that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a part of the BRI passes through Pak Occupied Kashmir (POK). But notwithstanding , territorial disputes even with China, India continued to build a robust trade relations with it. No doubt, China would immensely benefit from BRI as its excess industrial capacity and foreign exchange reserves can be consumed and the new connectivity would further boost this export-driven economy. But, India can also join this project according to its own requirements and the stakes it wishes to hold rather than remaining cut-off from the Belt and Road to which 68 nations have already linked up.

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