World

India snubs China's summit overtures

NEW DELHI China invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and six cabinet colleagues to its "new Silk Road" summit this month.

It even offered to rename a flagship Pakistani project running through disputed territory to persuade them to attend, a top official in Mr Modi's ruling group and diplomats said.

But New Delhi rebuffed Beijing's diplomatic push, incensed that a key project in its massive initiative to open land and sea corridors linking China with the rest of Asia and beyond runs through Pakistani controlled Kashmir.

India's snub to the "Belt and Road" project was the strongest move yet by Mr Modi to stand up to China.

But it risks leaving India isolated at a time when it may no longer be able to count on the United States to back it as a counterweight to China's growing influence in Asia, Chinese commentators and some Indian experts have said.

Representatives from 60 countries, including the US and Japan, travelled to Beijing for the May 14-15 summit on President Xi Jinping's signature project.

But Mr Ram Madhav, an influential leader of Mr Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party involved in shaping foreign policy, said India could not sign up so long as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor - a large part of the "Belt and Road" enterprise - ran through parts of Pakistan-administered Kashmir that India considers its own territory.

"China routinely threatens countries when it finds issues even remotely connected to its own sovereignty question being violated,"Mr Madhav said.

"No country compromises with its sovereignty for the sake of trade and commerce interests."

India could potentially be the biggest recipient of Chinese investment, a Credit Suisse report said.

Chinese investments into India could be anything from US$84 billion (S$116.3 billion) to US$126 billion between 2017 to 2021, far higher than in Russia, Indonesia and Pakistan, countries that have signed off on the initiative, it said.

But if India continues to hold back from joining China's regional connectivity plans, the commercial viability of those plans will be called into question, analysts say.

- REUTERS

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