- China aims to build "new Silk Road" to expand trade
- One part of the project runs through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir or PoK
- Leaders of 29 countries are participating in the two-day summit
In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry of External Affairs said "Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity."
In a reference to the controversies that plague the Chinese plan, the Indian government statement goes on to say, "We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality. Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities."
One part of the project called the CPEC (the China Pakistan Economic Corridor) runs through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir or PoK. India has strongly objected to this project, maintaining that PoK is a part of India, not Pakistan.
The Foreign Ministry makes a specific reference to the CPEC, saying "Regarding the so-called 'China-Pakistan Economic Corridor', which is being projected as the flagship project of the BRI/OBOR, the international community is well aware of India's position. No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity."
India's boycott comes as Nepal confirmed its participation in the meeting on Friday. Other neighbours like Sri Lanka and Pakistan are already attending including Pakistan's PM Nawaz Sharif who met Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday.
The US too has decided to attend, marking a U-turn in its position.
The scheme is the brainchild of President Xi, and aims to build a "new Silk Road" of ports, railways and roads to expand trade in a vast arc of countries across Asia, Africa and Europe.
Leaders of 29 countries plus senior delegates from other nations gather in Beijing for the two-day summit.
The Foreign Ministry statement also says "Expansion and strengthening of connectivity is an integral part of India's economic and diplomatic initiatives. Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative, 'One Belt, One Road' which was later renamed as 'Belt and Road Initiative'. We are awaiting a positive response from the Chinese side."