Sino-Indian Jostling in South Asia

Relations between Asia’s two most populous nations deteriorated over the course of 2017 as both compete over building regional influence. India has questioned China’s motives with the Belt and Road Initiative as well as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Also, China and India had a standoff at the tri-junction of borders with Bhutan. In December, China hosted a trilateral meeting with foreign ministers of Afghanistan and India’s rival Pakistan. “Over the years China has managed to tighten its economic bonds with India’s neighbors,” explains Harsh V Pant, a distinguished fellow at Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi and professor of international relations, King’s College London, and he provides examples from the Maldives and Nepal. Smaller nations often try leveraging the larger powers against one another. But providing support does not always go smoothly. For example, Pakistan expresses concerns about debt and conditions, and resists Chinese assistance for a major dam project. “Growing voices in Pakistan suggest that China may be a bigger beneficiary from CPEC than Pakistan,” Pant notes. Geography certainly helps determine influence, and Pant urges leaders of India to “manage not only its immediate neighborhood with greater strategic vision but also monitor China’s growing clout in South Asia.” – YaleGlobal