India has always objected to BRI, the key part of the project CPEC because it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and that is where it all gets tougher and ends up creating a mess in India’s relations with China. Jaishankar made it clear that the SCO region must work for safeguarding the interests of Central Asian countries and at the same time respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries. It was indeed a direct message to China concerning its CPEC and BRI in collaboration with Pakistan.
No doubt India is looking forward to increasing trade with the SCO members which is currently just $141 billion, but giving fair market access, especially to China, is not going to be in the favor of India: it might result in certain compromises, maybe at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where things have just cooled down. But India has played quite well in pitching for the usage of Chabahar Port in Iran. India played a vital role in Chabahar even as the port was effectively used for its trans-shipment from Russia when the Russia-Ukraine war was at its peak.
India is indeed doing its bit to provide a roadmap to the SCO, but there are certain hurdles that India will have to face as the journey of SCO proceeds further, because apart from Russia—which sides with India—it is in the direct race with China; both the countries matter and both will continue to remain at loggerhead with each other and the same might end up derailing, or side-lining the economic progress plans of the SCO as a whole. India pitches for using Chabahar, and China seeks cooperation for BRI from the members. India has already stood out from BRI—then how is China going to go with the proposal of using Chabahar? Speaks for itself, no?
When we talk of giving fair market access to China—whose prime focus would, without any doubt, be Indian markets—who is going to ensure accountability there, or is there any chance of even ensuring accountability? India needs to vet the long-term plans of China in the region and accordingly take calculated steps, especially, when it comes to working towards attaining economic growth and increasing the trade between SCO members under the shadow of China. Dragon is indeed seeking dominance!