Scholars from Sri Lanka and Nepal slammed accusations that China uses the Belt and Road initiative for political gains, saying that the initiative is merely about economic and scientific benefits.
China shares its development with Nepal and countries along the Belt and Road and such allegations are the result of some people’s misunderstanding, Binod Dawadi, deputy director of Kathmandu Center for Research and Education of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Tribhuvan University, told the Global Times on November 5 on the sidelines of the First General Assembly of the Alliance of International Science Organizations (ANSO) in the Belt and Road Region.
“From my working experience with Chinese colleagues, it’s nothing like that,” Dawadi said.
He got his PhD degree at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and previously worked and lived in China for a decade.
“Under the Belt and Road initiative, we are trying to develop economic and scientific relations with China, not the political relations, as part of the future is innovation,”Upul B. Dissanayake, vice chancellor of University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, told the Global Times.
When asked whether handling of the Hambantota Port with China was win-win cooperation, Dissanayake said that was the “only and the best” solution at that moment, as the port became a burden for the country’s economy.
The port was handed over to the China Merchant Ports Holdings on a 99-year lease agreement in December 2017, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Both Dissanayake and Dawadi said that they expected more cooperation with China in dealing with issues including climate change, diseases, clean water and training of young researchers under the Belt and Road initiative.
The two countries, as neighbors of both China and India, are often in media glare over complications in choosing between Beijing and New Delhi, especially for Sri Lanka that is currently in the midst of political turmoil.
“Sri Lanka issue is totally an internal issue, and there is no international mediation,” Dissanayake said. He said that both India and China are equal friends, and none has the priority.
“If Sri Lanka wants to survive, we have to maintain middle policy and we have to balance between India and China,” Dissanayake said.
Sri Lanka has good relations with China for centuries and the change of the government will not affect current relations with China, Dissanayake said.
Dawadi also highlighted equal relations with China and India.
“People may have such doubts about our choice between China and India as China and Nepal strengthened cooperation in recent years, but both India and China are our good neighbors and we maintain equal relations with them,” Dawadi told the Global Times.
The cooperation with China and India is based on the interests of Nepalese, and it is without boundaries, according to Dawadi.