European and Indian Perceptions of the Belt and Road Initiative
It is becoming clear that China’s ambitious Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) linking Asia and Africa with Europe through a network of various transportation corridors could fundamentally reshape the geo-economics and geopolitics of the whole Eurasian region and beyond. As the initiative has huge implications for the EU and India; the paper has captured evolving European and Indian BRI narratives. It has covered wider perceptions, which go much beyond limited official narratives. In the context of changing scope of the BRI, perceptions are also evolving. Initially, till 2017, European perceptions were mainly shaped by national views. Since then a more coordinated European approach is evolving. These perceptions have been partly shaped by the importance of the EU-China bilateral relation as well as European plans towards Asian connectivity. Europe’s developing strategic approach towards Eurasia has also affected these views. The EU greatly welcomes Chinese initiatives of increasing investments in cross-border infrastructure with the view that it should adhere to market rules, international financial and environmental norms. Through BRI, China has focused more on Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean region. Some of the projects have led to concerns over the possibility of diluting European political unity or investments rules. There is, however, much room for greater political coordination amongst European countries, notably by being more proactive in promoting for example the infrastructure projects which the EU has already financed in Central and Eastern Europe and by generally seeking to promote the EU-Asia connectivity plans.