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China believes building network of economic corridors will facilitate cultural exchanges

Business Standard 

The (OBOR) initiative is an ambitious project ostensibly for achieving what Chinese President has termed “sustainable globalisation”. He casts himself as a champion of global free trade at a time when the US and parts of Europe are closing down their economic borders and becoming protectionist. Even though Beijing claims OBOR is aimed at putting “geo-economics” above “geo-politics”, it is an announcement of China’s growing geo-political clout and a display of soft power. Such is the scale of the project that it will link Asia, Africa and Europe and touch the lives of almost 65 per cent of the world’s population.

believes building a network of trade routes and economic corridors will facilitate cultural exchanges and reshape the world. On the positive side, the connectivity project will establish that “geographical dispersion” is not insurmountable. India was not persuaded of the project’s merits and skipped the Belt and Road Forum. In fact, it objected to the project on several grounds from not meeting international norms, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through disputed territory and the prospect of leaving partner countries with debt burdens to suffering from a lack of transparency. New Delhi went so far as to call it “neo-colonialism by stealth” and a ploy to lure less powerful nations into its economic orbit and enhance its strategic heft. 

Whether India could have decided against isolating itself from the 70 participating countries is a matter for debate. But Beijing needs to be cautioned that the project doesn’t damage the environment.

G David Milton Maruthancode

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