A declaration signed by leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries, including Modi, at the end of a two-day summit of the bloc, said Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have been “reaffirming” their support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
In his address at the summit, Modi, in a clear reference to the BRI, said any mega connectivity project must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries and assured that India will support projects which ensure inclusivity.
“Connectivity with the neighbouring countries is India’s priority. We welcome the connectivity projects which are sustainable and efficient and which respect territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries,” he said.
India has been severely critical of the BRI, the pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, as the $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of the BRI, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
India says it cannot accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Modi, in presence of Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, said India’s commitment to connectivity projects was reflected in its involvement in the International North-South Corridor project, development of the Chabahar port and Ashgabat agreement.
China had unveiled the BRI in 2013 with an aim to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
President Xi has already announced that China would invest around $126 billion for the project.
However, there has been suspicion among several countries that the main aim of the project is to expand China’s influence globally.