New Delhi: Yang Yanyi, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference has asked India to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) adding that “bilateral problems with Pakistan should not be turned into an India-China issue”.

The member also said on Monday (July 1) that China had offered equal opportunities to both the countries.

India had boycotted the first Belt and Road Forum (BRF) meeting held in 2017 over its objections to the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), also skipped its second edition for the same reasons.

India has also been airing its concerns over the BRI financing, saying that connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities.

This time the US has emerged as a fierce critic of the BRI, saying that its predatory financing is leaving the smaller countries in heavy debt.

The concerns grew louder after China acquired Sri Lanka's Hambantota port for a 99-year lease as a debt swap.

The heavy Chinese financing of the $60 billion CPEC also raised concerns over Pakistan's ability to pay back.

China had earlier clarified that less than 20% of the CPEC projects are based on loans provided by it and rest of the 80 per cent ventures are either directly invested by Beijing or, used Chinese grants.

The BRI was launched by President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013. It aims to link southeast Asia, central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.

China is doling out huge sums of money for infrastructure projects in countries from Asia to Africa and Europe, enhancing its global influence.

Xi has also allayed fears that China is using the BRI as a geopolitical tool to attain superpower status.

He said the BRI is "not an exclusive club".

"Everything should be done in a transparent way and we should have zero tolerance for corruption," he had said.

(With inputs from PTI)