Beijing: As China went ahead with its economic corridor project with Pakistan through PoK disregarding India’s objections, a Chinese think tank in a rare criticism today cautioned the government to exercise “prudence” in pushing Silk Road projects. In an article titled “China must tread lightly with its ‘one belt, one road’ initiative” in the South China Morning Post today Shi Yinhong a professor of international relations and strategic studies at China’s Renmin University specially referred to the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM), the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Maritime Silk Road (MSR).
“Above all, prudence is required in dealing with the problems that may arise during the initiative, as well as with regard to other strategic projects including BCIM and CPEC,” the article said in a rare public criticism against the projects. “Yes, this is an appeal to China for prudence! Most importantly, Beijing has to realise it’s vital to fully engage the countries on whose sovereign lands the infrastructure systems are to be built, and this includes conducting far more international consultations than has been the case up to now,” it said.
The article said China needs to respect other nations involved in the project and allay their concerns. “Moreover, doing more and saying less should be a principle for China. To do otherwise could well aggravate the antipathy of India and Russia, and raise or increase suspicions among Central Asian republics and many countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean,” it said.
The Silk Road projects officially termed as the Belt and Road involved a number of roads including the revival of ancient Silk Road connecting China and Europe through Central Asia, BCIM, MSR and CEPC.
While India is taking part in BCIM, It has objected to CPEC because it is being laid through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and reluctant to back the MSR due to concerns of China’s domination in Indian Ocean. The projects “must be international collective enterprises; this is the only way to substantially ease the other nations’ worries and suspicions that may well present themselves”, the article said.
“If China fails to act appropriately, such construction will bring out nationalistic worries and stimulate political controversy domestically, as well as factional struggles shrouded by nationalism,” it said. “Equally important for China is to avoid trying to push the project too fast. The enterprise must be divided into different stages for each geographical region, sub-region and individual country, with strategic ideas and plans developed and revised as appropriate,” it said.