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Rethinking India’s Approach to China’s Belt and Road Initiative

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The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April 2019 witnessed a transformed discourse on China’s grand connectivity initiative. Evoking an agreeable geo-economic vision, the joint communique spoke of “extensive consultation,” “green,” “people-centred and sustainable development” as well as “high quality, sustainable infrastructure” that is “inclusive and broadly beneficial” (Belt and Road Forum 2019a). There is little doubt that China viewed the forum as a platform to exude more responsive and multilateral norms, with Xi Jinping himself acknowledging some of the problems with the initiative. There are three broader trends that might have convinced Beijing that the time was ripe for an adjustment.

To begin with, China has faced a growing tide of criticism against its ambitious connectivity plans in recent years, particularly from India and more advanced Western economies. Some of it is not without basis, as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has faced problems ranging from cost overruns to allegations of corruption and lack of transparency in the conception of projects. Nevertheless, Western propaganda had reached a fever pitch that was complicating the pursuit of the initiative.

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Updated On : 8th Jul, 2019

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