China allays fears over Belt and Road, says don’t ‘misinterpret’

By Gaurav Sharma

Beijing, March 4 : China on Sunday sought to allay fears over its grand multi-billion Belt and Road project, saying suspecting the initiative as Beijing’s “geostrategic tool” is a “misinterpretation”.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, aims to connect Asia, Africa and Europe through a network of highways, railways, sea lanes and ports under the Belt and Road project.

However, many countries including India suspect that China has geostrategic designs behind the project, which Beijing calls purely an economic one.

“To say that the Belt and Road Initiative is a geostrategic tool, in my view, this is a misinterpretation of the initiative,” said Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubber-stamp Parliament, whose session begins on Monday.

China has committed billions of dollars under the dream project of all-powerful Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Although many countries have voiced concern over the project, Beijing claims that more than 60 nations have already pledged to participate in the initiative.

China has invested over $50 billion in Pakistan to build the artery of Belt and Road that aims to connect its restive province Xinjiang with Pakistani region Balochistan.

India opposes the route of the project, which goes through the Kashmir claimed by it but controlled by Pakistan.

At a press conference, Zhang said a lot of progress has been made in terms of infrastructure connectivity building that has yielded a lot of early harvests.

He said policy communication is going deeper, cooperation mechanisms are being strengthened and collaboration on the ground is unfolding across the board.

China has doled out sops like scholarships to students from partner countries in the project.

/IANS

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