We Open ‘Not One But Many Roads’: President Kovind Takes On China’s One Belt One Road InitiativePrime Minister Narendra Modi along with President Ram Nath Kovind await Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in New Delhi. (Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images) 

In what appeared to be a dig at China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ Initiative (now renamed Belt and Road Initiative), President Ram Nath Kovind said during his visit to Vietnam that the cooperation with India opens “not one but many roads”.

Kovind, who is in Vietnam on a three-day state visit, made the comment while addressing the country’s National Assembly.

The One Belt, One Road Initiative, launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims at providing loans and grants for infrastructure development around the world. While the programme has led to the development of modern infrastructure in countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka, most of it has remained underused. This has pushed host countries into a debt trap which Beijing has exploited successfully.

A case in point is the handover of the Hambantota port to a Chinese state-owned firm by Sri Lanka in a debt-equity swap after it failed to pay back the high-interest loan that it secured from China for the construction of the port. The situation in case of an international airport, built in close proximity to the seaport, is no different. The low traffic that it gets has earned it the title of the world's emptiest airport.

This is Kovind’s first visit to Southeast Asia as President. He will also travel to Australia as part of his two-nation tour.

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