Last week, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi grabbed Xi Jinping by his devilish horns, and took the despotic Chinese ruler for a ride, leaving the CCP General Secretary floundering for a substantial defence. This was done at the BRICS summit. Now, Prime Minister Modi has landed a hurtful punch on Jinping’s face once again, this time at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit hosted by Tajikistan at Dushanbe.
We all know how China has courted international anger for its purported involvement in the Coronavirus outbreak, following which the very first cases of Covid-19 were reported out of the city of Wuhan. Ever since China has found itself isolated and in a dearth of countries willing to get entangled with Beijing.
China’s woes only exacerbated on Friday, as PM Modi took to subtly telling countries about the shoddy nature of Beijing’s infrastructure development projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Addressing the SCO summit virtually, in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and other leaders from the SCO member countries, PM Modi declared, “No connectivity initiative can be a one-way project.”
The Prime Minister added, “To ensure mutual trust, connectivity projects should be consultative, transparent and participatory. There should be respect for the territorial integrity of all countries.” PM Modi, after having exposed China’s BRI for the exploitative and neo-colonial project that it is, said that India is completely dedicated to enhancing its connectivity with Central Asia. He said, “We believe that landlocked Central Asian countries can benefit immensely by connecting with India’s vast market.”
For Prime Minister Modi to make it clear that all connectivity and infrastructure projects should respect the territorial integrity of host nations is indeed a tight slap on China’s face. It must be remembered that China’s flagship BRI also entails the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a project directly infringing India’s territorial sovereignty in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Of course, CPEC has run into a host of troubles itself, but China’s motives of eating away neighbouring countries’ territories are hardly unknown.
PM Modi also flagged Islamic radicalisation as the biggest challenge to peace, security and trust deficit in the region.
Modi at BRICS
As reported by TFI recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong intervention in favour of a “transparent investigation” into the origins of the pandemic in the presence of CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping at the BRICS summit last week. Modi said, “Today global governance needs credibility. There must be a transparent investigation into the origins of the virus under the World Health Organisation’s framework, and this must receive full cooperation from all countries.”
PM Modi, who has been at the forefront of taking on China for over a year now, added, “If this is done, it will reduce the questions over WHO’s credibility and we would be able to prepare better for future pandemics as well.”
India’s Commitment to Central Asia
China is trying to increasingly establish itself as the authority of Central Asia, a region traditionally seen as Russia’s backyard – courtesy of the fact that all Central Asia nations were once a part of the erstwhile Soviet Union. Prime Minister Modi reminding SCO member nations that India is looking to boost its ties with Central Asia, and connecting the nations therein to Indian markets will surely be seen by Beijing as a challenge to BRI.
Make no mistake, by now, almost every country has realised what BRI is. It is a tool of expansionism being wielded by the CCP. And India’s Prime Minister has begun a mission of reinforcing such beliefs at the international stage, thus leaving China red-faced.
Meanwhile, India and Russia are together working on the International North-South Corridor, which is a multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road routes for transporting goods between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia, and Europe. The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan, Bandar Anzali, etc. The INSCTC is a formidable challenger to China’s BRI.
The transit route will help in bringing down trade costs and time which will enable India to cement its position in the Middle East and Central Asia. A study to identify the bottlenecks in the transit route showed transport costs were reduced by “$2,500 per 15 tons of cargo”. Late last year, Uzbekistan gave its “in principle concurrence” to joining the INSTC, in what was seen as a geopolitical coup by India against China.
India is upping the ante against China on international forums, and Xi Jinping is getting embarrassed regularly now. Yet, there is nothing he can do to save himself the humiliation since China has worked rather hard to earn India’s ire.