Congress expresses concern over inclusion of OBOR in China’s Constitution

Centre has maintained a studied silence over the change made to the Chinese Constitution, even as PM Modi sent out a congratulatory message to President Xi Jinping

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Dhairya Maheshwari

While Centre maintains a studied silence over the inclusion of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative in the Chinese Constitution, Congress has expressed concern over the constitutional changes made at the recently concluded Chinese People’s Congress, which ended on Tuesday.

“India is opposed to the specific strand of One Belt One Road (OBOR) that passes through our territory,” Secretary at Congress’ Foreign Affairs Department and party spokesperson Manish Tewari told National Herald.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday sent out a congratulatory message to President Xi, even as he chose to stay silent on the issue of OBOR. India was a notable exception among regional countries which didn’t send representatives to attend the inaugural OBOR conference in Beijing in May, which otherwise saw participation from 65 other countries.

Tewari, however, said that India shouldn’t be opposed to the larger connectivity initiative of One Belt One Road.

The former union minister said that enshrining of the OBOR, which is a flagship initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping, was a continuation of a pattern in Sino-India relations that’s been there since the 1960s.

“The Pakistanis illegally ceded large tracts of northern Kashmir to China in 1963,” Tewari pointed out.

A member of the erstwhile National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) and former bureaucrat, Jayadev Ranade, said that India’s concerns about sovereignty over Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) went unheeded.

“The enshrining of the One Belt One Road Initiative in China’s Constitution at the recently concluded Chinese People’s Congress is an indication that India’s concerns on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor have been ignored,” Ranade told NH.

Now heading the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy (CCAS), Ranade noted that the aim of President Xi Jinping was to get the OBOR ready by 2049, which will be the centenary of the founding of People’s Republic.

“They will look to complete this connectivity project in the second phase of China’s development towards a global power, which will go on from 2035 to 2050. China is expected to pioneer global influence and achieve supremacy matching that of the US during the period,” Ranade said.

The OBOR initiative, inspired by the ancient Silk Road, is a network of infrastructure projects over land and sea that’s expected to increase China’s influence on global trade. Beijing will spend approximately $1 trillion on OBOR over coming years.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is part of OBOR that will connect Xinjiang in western China to the port of Gwadar in Pakistan. The CPEC route passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), which is a key concern raised by India time and again.

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