By Gaurav Sharma
Feb 12 (IANS) China on Tuesday rejected a report that its ambitious Belt and Road project was “facing a push back” by countries in India’s neighbourhood like Pakistan and Nepal.
It also sought to play down the reported cancellation of Chinese-funded dam and hydropower projects by Pakistan and Nepal, respectively.
A report in an Indian newspaper cited India’s Foreign Affairs Ministry’s study that due to Beijing’s “unacceptable conditions”, its trillion-dollar Belt and Road programme was “facing a push back” from Islamabad and Kathmandu that have pulled the plug on Chinese-funded projects.
Beijing’s ally Pakistan scrapped Diamer-Bhasha dam, while Nepal junked the 750-MW West Seti hydropower project.
“The information about the above-mentioned project reported by the media is false,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.
“The dam project was not included in the Belt and Road initiative and the hydropower plant in Nepal is still in negotiation.
“As to the blacklisting of China Harbour Engineering company is also false,” Hua said, referring to the reported charges against the firm for bribing government officials in Bangladesh.
In 2018, Islamabad slashed the budget for a major railway project under the Beijing-funded China-Pakistan Economic Project (CPEC), citing its inability to repay the Chinese loans.
India opposes the multi-billion CPEC as its planned routes cut through the disputed Kashmir held by Pakistan.
China has spent over $60 billion in Pakistan under the CPEC, the lynchpin to its Belt and Road.
“All the projects are the outcome of equal negotiation and difficulties encountered by certain projects do not change the fact that the Belt and Road cooperation has played a positive role in promoting economic development,” Hua said.
“And we also follow the market principles and established international rules… we will never impose our will on others and there are no so-called unacceptable conditions.”
China aims to connect Asia, Europe and Africa through a vast network of highways, sea lanes and ports under the Belt and Road project.
It plans to spend about a trillion dollar in over 65 countries under the project, which many, including India, see as Beijing’s geostrategic design. However, China says the project is purely economic in nature.
India also worries China doling out loans to the countries in its neighbourhood could push them into a debt trap.
(Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])