Barely 5 months ago, the OBOR Summit was held in Beijing. Many heads of state attended while many nations sent representations to the summit. One nation that first opposed but later sent its representatives was the US. Clearly, President Trump had his doubts in going all-out in opposing China’s most ambitious geopolitical strategy. Now, America has changed its stance.
India had skipped the summit making headlines. China wasn’t pleased with this defiant act from a nation that it has bullied in the past and expects to in the future. But India’s reason behind boycotting the OBOR was sovereignty. CPEC is a part of OBOR and runs through PoK which is disputed territory.
US Defence Secretary Jimmy Mattis was in India recently where he met Prime Minister Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The discussions were varied from talks of defence deals, China’s OBOR, and scope of India’s involvement in Afghanistan.
After this visit, America has changed its stance. It has now thrown its weight behind India’s opposition to the CPEC. The Trump administration says that the CPEC passes through disputed territory and no country should put itself in a position of dictating the Belt and Road initiative.
“In a globalized world, there are many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating ‘one belt, one road’,”Mattis told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing.
“That said, the ‘one belt, one road” also goes through disputed territory, and I think, that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate,” Mattis said apparently referring to India’s position on CPEC.
Senator Charles Peters also spoke on the OBOR: “The One Belt One Road strategy seeks to secure China’s control over both the continental and the maritime interest, in their eventual hope of dominating Eurasia and exploiting natural resources there, things that are certainly at odds with Russian policy. So what role do you see China playing in Afghanistan, and particularly related to their One Belt One Road.”
This change in stance by the US may have come because of India’s strong stand against China’s intrusion into Doklam. This display of India’s will may have encouraged the US to deepen ties with India that could act as the strongest counter to Chinese rise in Asia.