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SCO Summit 2018: India stays firm on its principles & national interest at Qingdao
Attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit of eight nations for the first time along with Pakistan as a full fledged member at China's resort city of Qingdao recently, India stood firm on its principle of sovereignty and citing lack of transparency, refused to endorse China's One Belt One Road initiative (OBOR).

However, except India all member countries endorsed the project by featuring in the paragraph of the joint declaration of the SCO Summit.

It is worth remembering that India has been opposed to China's Belt and Road project right from its inception, even having abstainedfromparticipating in its launch event at Beijing last year in keeping with its national interest.

India has been opposed to Beijing's multi-billion dollar project of intercontinental connectivity as it passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) which is claimed by India but held by Pakistan. At best it is a disputed territory which both China and Pakistan are well aware of.

In addition to this, India all along has been saying that the project lacks transparency. Even in countries which are part of this project, strong suspicion is brewing that China is burdening their respective economieswith heavy debts. The speculation is that the cost of the OBOR project is so high that it will be almost impossible for smaller member countries to pay back the loans taken from China, and as a result they shall have to cede their territory.

Case in point is the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka which China is developing for increasing its influence in the region. In December last year, Sri Lanka handed over control of Hambantota Port to China on a 99-year lease in lieu of $1.12 billion. However, China has reportedly withheld the final trance of the Hambantota Port deal to Sri Lanka worth $585 million over Colombo's objection

toChina's plan of developing a man-made island in the regionfor entertainment purposes.

Even in Pakistan where China is investing$55 billion on its Belt and Road project, known as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a lot of dissenting voices are rising. A large number of Pakistani economic experts feel that Pakistan will become the de facto colony of China as the country won't be able to pay back hefty loansextended at high interestratesby China to Pakistan.

Almost theentire world is saying in one unanimous voice that without India's participation China's OBORinitiative will never achieve its full potential. China is also very keen that India should participate in its most ambitious project, but then, what efforts apart from cajoling India to join OBOR, China is making?

The United States being well aware of Pakistan's double standards on sponsoring terrorism has blocked$2 billion dollars worth of aid to Pakistan. The only ally left with Pakistan now is China which also keeps its replenished with arms and ammunition.

Whatshouldn'tbe forgotten is that while on one hand Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinpinghave been engaging in dialogue at summits like the informal WuhanSummit, on the other handChina has been flexing its muscles and confronting India in border areaslike it happened during the 73-day standoff at Doklam last year.

If China wants to build trust with India then it should formalise a Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India and drop its claim on regions like Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin. At the economic front too, China should throw open its markets to Indian exporters of agricultural goods etc. China will have to understand that it takes two to tango. However, it's finally good to see India developing some spine and standing up to China for safeguarding its national interests.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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