NEW DELHI: China may have committed yet another faux pas in the zealous selling of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) by including countries which are not yet officially in the mega initiative, a little over a month after including India in a BRI map at the second BRI Summit before retracting.

Last week, China’s foreign ministry used the accreditation ceremony of new ambassadors to Beijing, including that from neighbouring South Korea and far away Colombia, to claim that these envoys have endorsed BRI, ET has learnt.

S Korean envoy Jang Hasung denied having endorsed BRI on the occasion, puncturing Chinese claims, ET has reliably learnt.

Earlier in March China had claimed that South Korea has expressed interest in joining BRI but Seoul denied any such assurance to the Chinese. At the April BRI Summit, China included India in its BRI map and proposed BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) corridor into BRI, only to retract both these ideas later.

“…The ministry in a statement claimed all seven ambassadors, who included the new Korean envoy as well as the representative of faraway Colombia, expressed “their countries’ hope to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative and expand mutually beneficial cooperation…Seoul was quick to deny that Jang Hasung said anything of the sort,” leading South Korean English daily Chosun reported after the incident.

The other envoys in Beijing were from Chad, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, none of which fall within the remit of the Belt and Road Initiative, Chosun reported, adding, “Yet the ministry claimed that they all “sincerely congratulated China’s successful hosting of the 2nd Belt and Road Initiative Summit,” as if that would be uppermost in their minds.”

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