One Belt One Road(OBOR) is arguably one of the largest development plans and much touted new foreign and economic policy of China.
Envisaged by theChinese president Xi Jinping in 2013 on his visit to Kazakhstan, OBOR is an ambitious project of $1 trillion. The 'belt' includes countries situated on the original silk road through Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. This road will help in integrating the western parts of China with central Asian countries.
Originally this project was envisioned to increase Chinese trade as it needs more raw materials and markets now and also to develop its northwestern Xinjiang region but the most important reason was to grow in a world power.
However if we gain a deeper insight we notice that it is going to affect India as well. On one side we can debate upon that it would result into better integration with Central Asian countries but on the other side we notice that it will harm India in many ways
Firstly the most important concern is the threat that comes from China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is an integral part of SREB. Due to the fact that the CPEC project runs through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), it poses a serious fear that in the near future China may emerge as a direct party in Kashmir dispute and undermine India's strategic position. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor's mandate includes the development of energy infrastructure, roads and railways. Its influence ends in Gwadar, which is fast becoming a de facto Chinese staging post in the Persian Gulf area. It will also allow transport energy sources like petroleum from Middle East Countries via Pakistan. China signed 51 MoU's with Pakistan worth $46 billion as an extension of China's Silk Road initiative. Regional transport, energy security and blue economy are the key reasons. Apart from serving as a commercial port, Gwadar is also deep enough to accommodate submarines and aircraft carriers. Thus it may be used as a military port by People Liberation Army Navy in future.
The development of more projects such as Gwadar could significantly trouble India's current dominance in its backyard - the Indian Ocean region.Also OBOR is a unilateral ideational of China and there is a lack of transparency in its working. The process is not participatory and collaborative in nature.
Another harm is that China is developing ports in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan under Maritime Silk Route (MSR) and trying to enlarge its influence using its economic might in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. So MSR is nothing but an economic disguise to the "Strings of Pearls" Theory. The fact that China is investing a lot in India's neighboring country and it can play its cards against India can also notderelict, for example, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor gives de facto legitimization to Pakistan's rights in POK(Pakistan occupied Kashmir) which is against India's interests.
As far as security issues are concerned, through OBOR, China is trying to counter 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.
Now if India joins OBOR it will give legitimacy to the alleged state-sponsored terrorism from Pakistan which can spread to the rest of J & K. Besides that the fact that the economies of China, India and Pakistan are not complementary can actually spell doom for India's economy.
So we see that OBOR is actually China's policy primarily driven by broad geostrategic and geopolitical aims.Theoretically, if India's political and strategic concerns are met, the initiative could be seen as viable. Already all of India's neighbors are a part of it. However as we have seen the harms it may inflict on India and given due India's growing concerns over Chinese hegemonic intentions in South Asia and Indo-Pacific region,India should not join One Belt One Road as it will have an adverse effect.
- Aayushi Shukla