India has unveiled a major plan for the development of its North Eastern states by connecting them with Chittagong port.
Scholars in China have cautiously welcomed India's move to invite limited Chinese investments for the development of its North Eastern states by connecting them with Bangladesh's Chittagong port.
India has unveiled a major plan for the development of its North Eastern states by connecting them with Chittagong port and invited for the first-time limited Chinese investments which were shunned till now due to security concerns in the border areas.
Senior Cabinet Ministers from Assam, Tripura and Nagaland the states governed by the BJP and its allies accompanied by BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav visited the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou last weekend and met Indian and Chinese businessmen.
State-run Global Times in a report said the invitation to China to participate in an India-Bangladesh connectivity project is a surprise move that Chinese observers broadly and cautiously welcomed it.
"If the Indian government confirms an invitation to China to participate in its northeastern projects, that means India is shifting toward China's Belt and Road Initiative," Zhao Gancheng, director of the Shanghai Institute for the International Studies Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies in Beijing told the daily.
China would highly welcome the Indian government's proposal, Zhao said, given the recent uncertainties in the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM) which is part of the BRI.
But it was a decision that needed to be made by the Indian prime minister or the national government, not a party political leader, Zhao noted. China is promoting Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) as part of its BRI.
The BRI focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among Asian countries, Africa, China and Europe. The BRI includes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a project over which India has protested as it traverses through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Lan Jianxue, an associate research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies echoed Zhao's views, saying as long as the project did not relate to any territorial dispute, China would likely get involved. "Cooperation between India and China is promising, but India needs to banish any vestiges of a Cold War mentality," Lan told the Global Times.
An op-ed article in Global Times also welcomed Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe's announcement to launch “understanding India” programme in ICCR missions abroad to "demystify" India.
"The good news is, New Delhi is trying to have some kind of 'understanding India programme' in major countries like China," the article said. "Sahasrabuddhe made a good point.
Most Chinese have a one-sided understanding of India. When it comes to this close neighbour, the Chinese people naturally think of gorgeous songs and dances, successful Bollywood films, or the rape incidents, pollution or people hanging onto the outside of trains. Quite a few have never heard of Hinduism and many believe Buddhism is the most popular religion in India," it said.
Madhav while interacting with media here on August 15 outlined a plan prepared by the BJP-led government for the development of North Eastern states by providing the landlocked region direct access to Bangladesh's Chittagong port instead of shipping the goods all the way from Mumbai and Chennai ports.
He said the Indian delegation held talks with Chinese investors and invited investments from e-bike manufacturers, software and hardware firms.
He said India is developing Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) sub-regional hub and even invited Chinese investors to use North East to access Indian Ocean through Chittagong. “We have not attempted connecting North East with China. Our vision was that they are natural neighbours. North East has huge boundary with China," he said.
“South West China can use North East as hub to go to Indian Ocean through Chittagong . We have not explored much. We only thought through Sikkim we can give access to China to the Indian Ocean through Kolkata port. But this (Chittagong port) is also an excellent opportunity," he said.But challenges remain as China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet. "We have issues in Arunachal Pradesh, that is a challenge," he added.