By Gaurav Sharma

Beijing–China on Tuesday said it was up to India to join the Belt and Road project, but the doors for New Delhi “will always remain open”.

India skipped the just-concluded Belt and Road forum in Beijing in opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Beijing also asked New Delhi to explain what it meant by “meaningful dialogue” on the Belt and Road project.

“The Belt and Road initiative is for regional peace and prosperity. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as part of the Belt and Road is not about conflicts with various countries and will not affect China’s position on Kashmir issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

“China has welcomed the participation of India in the Belt and Road project. Our answer is clear.”

“It depends on what aspect the Indian side holds.”

“Doors will always remain open. We will always welcome the participation from the Indian side,” she added.

Asked about India’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay’s remarks that India has been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on Belt and Road, Hua said: “I would like you to do me a favour. I read his statement many times. He said that he is waiting for a meaningful dialogue from China and I don’t know what the spokesperson is trying to say.”

“What kind of dialogue is a meaningful dialogue? What kind of positive attitude does the spokesperson want China to hold?

“If they have the answer they can give me the answer in public and private.”

“Our position is clear that we have always welcomed India to participate in the Belt and Road initiative.”

On the eve of the OBOR forum, Indian issued a statement saying it cannot “accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

CPEC is the key artery of China’s Belt and Road project that aims to connect Asia, Europe and Africa through a network of roads, railway lines and ports.

Besides its opposition to the CPEC, which India has raised at the highest forums during bilateral interactions, New Delhi in a statement had also cited its other concerns about OBOR.

“We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality.

“Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities. Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it added. (IANS)