India has once again opposed China’s massive Asian connectivity venture through belt and road and on land and sea, saying that such a link needs consensus. India also said that the Asian giant cannot take a unilateral decision in its own favour.

Addressing the Raisina Dialogue – an international conference on geopolitics jointly organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation – in New Delhi, Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said that the Asian connectivity should be a “consultative process”, or else the plan could not defuse regional rivalries.

“There should be no place for use or threat of use of force. Discipline and restraint should ensure standards of behaviour, especially by and between states that jostle to widen their respective spaces in an increasingly inter-connected continent,” Jaishankar further said on Wednesday.

The senior Indian official urged Beijing to respect the global commons and not to dilute them under any circumstances. Jaishankar told the audience that the global community has a responsibility to uphold freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of all major disputes. Meanwhile, he held China responsible for the absence of “an agreed security architecture” in Asia, saying that such an architecture could have discouraged the rise to unnecessary competitiveness.

Jaishankar made clear to Beijing that India would never accept the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), if it runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. He further advised the Asian powerhouse to resolve the South China Sea dispute through peaceful negotiations with other countries in the region. “Connectivity should defuse national rivalries, not add to regional tensions,” stressed Jaishankar.

On regional connectivity, the Indian official said that all the Asian countries should go beyond physical infrastructure and consider a broader picture, such as “institutional regulatory, legal, digital financial and commercial connections”, while finalising big projects.

India believes that a willingness to create arrangements is needed for nurturing connectivity. India also believes that such arrangements will ultimately lead to higher levels of trust and confidence. Only commonly agreed international norms, rules and practices should govern a connected Asia, insisted Jaishankar.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]