India snubs Chinese proposal to upgrade BCIM-EC talks
India has snubbed a Chinese proposal to upgrade the ongoing Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar -Economic corridor (BCIM-EC) joint study group talks to ministerial level. The two-day BCIM meet concluded on April 26 in Kolkata. The BCIM is a sub-group to review economic development while facilitating the construction of a 2,800-km long economic corridor from Kunming in south-west China to Kolkata via Mandalay in Myanmar, Imphal in Manipur, Silchar in Assam, and Dhaka and Jessore in Bangladesh.
At the Kolkata meeting, the Chinese delegation head Wang Xiaotao, a counterpart of India's NITI Ayog, made the proposal to upgrade the present consultation process to an intergovernmental framework.
While answering a question on this proposal, MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said that the Joint study group was to synthesise various country reports about the finalisation of the proposed projects to be taken up first. Though he did not officially reject the Chinese proposal but indicated a roadmap which might take a long time. He also added, "We attach great significance to it." A very senior and veteran diplomat (former High Commissioner to Bangladesh Ranjit Mitter) heads the Joint study group which just met in Kolkata. Our Additional Secretary (A Gitesh Sharma) was there to assist him. But, the Chinese delegation head was insisting in the meeting that it was decided in the second conference (held in Bangladesh in December 2014) that mechanism modalities of an intergovernmental framework agreement would be worked out on the basis of reports by all BCIM countries.
Though the economic corridor was to connect through Assam and Manipur, no representative from those states was present at the meeting.