A Chinese daily today claimed that former prime minister Manmohan Singh had "expressed support" for China's ambitious Maritime Silk Road plan but his successor Narendra Modi "changed" India's "attitude" towards the initiative by using delaying tactics.
"Indian strategists and the government believe there is some geostrategic design behind the 'Belt and Road' (Silk Road) initiative. Now, India has adopted opposing, delaying and hedging measures toward different parts of the initiative," an article published in the state run news paper said.
"When China initiated the MSR in 2013, then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his national security advisor Shivshankar Menon expressed support and interest. But current Prime Minister Narendra Modi changed India's attitude toward MSR after he came into power," the article written by Liu Zongyi, a fellow of state-run Shanghai Institutes for International Studies said.
India from the beginning has reservations over the strategic impact of the MSR on the Indian Ocean, observers here pointed out that India first sought details of the project since its outline was unveiled in 2014.
The final blueprint of the MSR which was part of the mega Belt and Road project was released by Chinese President Xi Jinping only in March last year during Boao Forum for Asia by which time Modi government was firmly in saddle. Vice President Hamid Ansari during his visit to Beijing in June said New Delhi had sought more details about the MSR.
China's Silk Road plan the name of which was subsequently changed to "Belt and Road" project moots a maze of roads and corridors connecting China with Asia and Europe. Besides the MSR and BCIM, the plan includes China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), rail and road connectivity with Central Asia and Europe. India has already conveyed its objection to CPEC as it goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, during her visit to Beijing last year, said India will not give a blanket endorsement to the MSR project but support where the synergies of the two countries meet.
While criticising India's approach to MSR, today's article in the Global Times also said China should increase maritime cooperation with India to dispel misgivings. "China should improve connections and cooperation with the Indian Ocean Rim Association and other regional cooperation organisations in the Indian Ocean. At the same time, China should improve maritime cooperation with India," it said.