China on Thursday said India should shed its reservations over ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and join the project as it will not change Beijing’s stand on the Kashmir issue.
“We welcome other countries including India to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on the basis of voluntarism,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the media.
The BRI’s goal is to promote connectivity between regional countries and common prosperity of all countries, the spokesman added.
“The initiative will not affect China’s position on relevant issues and our position on relevant initiatives will not be changed,” he said.
The BRI will bring tangible benefits to those who are participating in the project at an early date, Geng maintained.
The BRI, which includes China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has been included in the Constitution of the ruling Communist Party of China in the just concluded once-in-a- five-year Congress.
In May this year, India had boycotted the two-day Belt and Road Forum, which was attended by leaders from 29 countries including Pakistan, due to sovereignty concerns over CPEC which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
In a strongly-worded statement issued hours before the opening of the forum in the Chinese capital, India had said that it had strong reservation over the CPEC as it undermines India’s territorial integrity.
“Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative, ‘One Belt, One Road’ which was later renamed as ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. Regarding the so-called CPEC, which is being projected as the flagship project of the BRI/OBOR, the international community is well aware of India’s position. No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the then External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay had said in a statement.
China has been reiterating that the USD 50 billion CPEC is a connectivity project and will not affect its stand that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan through talks.