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China's Belt and Road Initiative opportunity for India: Shivshankar Menon

The BRI involves 65 countries and 4.4 billion people

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

Shivshankar Menon

The and (BRI) of China, which aims to link with for and other exchanges, represents an opportunity for India, former Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said here on Friday.

"This does represent an opportunity for Even if some portion of what is proposed in the is implemented, it will markedly change the economic and strategic landscape within which we operate," he said.

Menon was speaking at a conference on 'The and Initiative: India's perspectives on China's ambitious plan for infrastructural connectivity in Asia, and Europe', organised by Mumbai-based Observer Research Foundation.

"The connectivity that promises will benefit all the exporting countries in which need to be better connected with their markets and suppliers. There are maritime and continental connectivity gaps in Eurasia that need to be filled," the former security adviser said.

"There are evident advantages (of BRI) for the Chinese economy," he said, adding "will set standards across countries and markets."

"If there is an attempt to exclude economic rivals or pursue political or security goals, the economic benefits will be limited," Menon said.

"There will be certain benefits for the Chinese economy and also advantages for the others who participate in the BRI," he said.

The former Foreign Secretary noted that not all projects under were economically viable, suggesting that they would have some geostrategic motivations, for instance, the China- Pakistan economic corridor.

"It is very hard to see an economic justification for it. It is the strategic portion such as a port which has been implemented first," Menon said.

"For India, there is the added complication that it goes through Indian territory under Pakistani occupation. Making a long-term investment on that basis seems to solidify and legitimise that occupation.

"Much of the planned infrastructure is in regions and countries where security is weak and politics is unstable. Therefore, the risks to large-scale investments are considerable," he said.

Menon, who recently came out with his book on India's nuclear weapons doctrine, said, "China, like India, today is one of the most outspoken advocates of globalisation and multilateralism.

"The involves 65 countries and 4.4 billion people," he added.

First Published: Fri, April 21 2017. 19:01 IST