QUESTION: China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) is an ambitious plan to expand its economy. With this in view, describe the overall China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its impact on India. (8 marks/120 words)
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (also known as One Belt, One Road (OBOR)) is one of President Xi’s most ambitious foreign and economic policies. The BRI is an ambitious plan to develop new trade routes connecting China with the rest of the world.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative:
The first is China’s rivalry with the US. The vast majority of Chinese international trade passes by sea through the Malacca strait off the coast of Singapore which is a major US ally. The initiative is integral to China’s efforts to create its own more secure trade routes.
The second key reason for the initiative is the legacy of the 2008 financial crisis. China’s government responded to the emergency with a ¥4tn stimulus package, issuing contracts to build railways, bridges, and airports, but saturated the Chinese market in the process. The Belt and Road framework provides an alternative market for China’s vast state-owned companies beyond the borders of China. E.g., CPEC
Finally, the Belt and Road is seen as a crucial element in the Chinese government’s efforts to stimulate economies of the country’s central provinces, which historically lag behind richer coastal areas. The government uses the Belt and Road to encourage and support businesses in these central regions, allocating budget generously, and encouraging businesses to compete for Belt and Road contracts.
Its impact on India:
Sovereignty and Territorial integrity”: The primary objection is that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (part of BRI) passes through Gilgit-Baltistan region and thus ignores India’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Debt trap policy: BRI would lead to Chinese neo-colonialism causing unsustainable debt burden for communities and an adverse impact on the environment in the partner countries.
Transparency: Then, there is a lack of transparency in China’s agenda. Some experts believe that BRI is not just an economic project but one that China is promoting for political control.
Through OBOR, China is countering the strategies of India in North East region and is promoting its greater presence in North East India, part of which China claims as its own territory. This may have a security impact on India.
Conclusion: India should send its observers to the meetings and conferences on BRI, in order to gauge the plans of China, like the U.S. and Japan, which are not even part of the BRI, have sent their officials to witness the proceeding.
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