Over the weekend, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejected China's offer to participate in the ambitious "Belt and Road" global investment initiative, also known as "One Belt, One Road." Beijing had previously invited New Delhi to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor — a network of roads, railways and pipelines linking Pakistan's southern port of Gwadar to China's western Xinjiang province — which Chinese President Xi Jinping has deemed central to OBOR.
The crux of India's reluctance to the program is the fact that the $46 billion corridor will traverse Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, with officials declaring that the venture violated Indian sovereignty. Most of Kashmir has been divvied up between the two South Asian nations, but the Himalayan region still remains a hotly contested issue between New Delhi and Islamabad.
The corridor would "destroy any chance of a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute," Samir Saran, vice president of the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, said in a recent note. "In effect, Pakistan and China are suggesting that it is conceivable Kashmir can be segregated into separate units that merit unique economic, political and military engagement."
Beijing has said the project was strictly focused on economic cooperation and devoid of geopolitical issues, but in a strongly-worded statement on Saturday, New Delhi said it could not accept a project that ignored its core concerns on sovereignty.
It's not just the corridor, though: India has beef with the entire OBOR program.
The South Asian giant refused to send a delegation to a Chinese conference on the topic over the weekend, where Xi pledged $100 billion to finance projects. Saturday's statement also listed several concerns behind the venture, noting that any initiative promoting connectivity between countries must not create unsustainable debt burdens for communities. Indeed, the prospect of host countries struggling to pay back loans for infrastructure projects executed by Chinese companies has been one of the biggest criticisms of the program.