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Day 47 – Q 2.Keeping in mind, an aggressive and far more proactive China, there is an urgent need of enhanced and much deeper outreach towards Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. Elucidate.

2. Keeping in mind, an aggressive and far more proactive China, there is an urgent need of enhanced and much deeper outreach towards Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. Elucidate. 

एक आक्रामक और कहीं अधिक सक्रिय चीन को ध्यान में रखते हुए, मालदीव, श्रीलंका और भूटान की ओर बढ़ी हुई और अधिक गहरे आउटरीच की तत्काल आवश्यकता है। स्पष्ट करें।


India’s relationship with China have gone through a tumultuous phase in the last few years. There have been disputes like China’s opposition to India’s entry in NSG, Support for discussion on Kashmir issue in UNSC recently among others.


Expansionist China is becoming more aggressive and proactive in its international affairs, to counter it, India needs to proactively engage in enhancing its relationship towards Maldives, Srilanka and Bhutan. The need to enhance with these three countries in particular is because:

With Srilanka:

  • Chinese inroads in Sri lanka is seen to be threatening to India’s security and safety.
  • Sri lanka is considered to be important to Chinese “String of pearls” theory which is considered to be threatening India’s security by presumably encircling India.
  • Increasing Chinese role in Sri lanka and Indian ocean is seen to undermine India’s role as the net security provider in the Indian ocean region. 
  • China has got lease of Hambantota port which could be used for military purpose in times to come.
  • Increasing influence of China, will decrease Sri lanka’s dependence on India, there by reducing India’s bargaining power.

With Maldives:

  • Strategic location of Maldives is very important for surveillance operations in the Indian Ocean region.
  • Protect India’s trade interests and security interest.
  • To keep watch on global terror as country is closely linked to radical Islam. It has sent the highest number of foreign fighters to support terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.
  • It is also a member in China’s Strong of pearl theory and ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, a development strategy which has met with a certain resistance by India. 
  • It has Free Trade Agreement with China. The archipelago nation is the only SAARC country, other than Pakistan, to have a free trade pact with China.
  • China has also sent warships to visit the Maldives. If China, which has stepped up military pressure on India along their Himalayan frontier, turned one of the Maldivian islands into a naval base, it would effectively open a maritime front against India.

With Bhutan:

  • Bhutan is a strategically important country for India due to its location, and both sides have been ramping up overall cooperation, including in areas of defence and security, and energy, over the past a few years.
  • Bhutan’s significance to India stems from its geographic location. Nestled in the Himalayas, it is sandwiched between India and China. Thus, it serves as a buffer between the two Asian giants. Bhutan’s value as a buffer soared after China annexed Tibet in 1951.
  • As the 2017 crisis in the Doklam region revealed, India will strongly oppose, even militarily, any Chinese attempt to assert control over mDoklam. Securing Bhutan’s present borders especially its western border is clearly important for India.
  • Doklam in the hands of a hostile power would heighten the vulnerability of India’s Siliguri Corridor, a narrow strip of land that links India to its North-eastern states. So vital is Doklam to India’s defence that India has a permanent and sizeable military contingent and an army hospital in Haa district, where Doklam is located.
  • Bhutan is also very vital for India’s energy security needs due to its hydroelectric potential. 

Way forward:

  • Neighbourhood first: India should in the first place resolve the differences with its small neighbors. Else it will only pave the way for China to exert growing influence in the region as it was seen in the case of Nepal during the economic blockade by India.
  • Revival of SAARC should be stressed upon.
  • Common platforms like SCO, of which both India and China are members, should be leveraged to iron out the differences and resolve issues.
  • Infrastructure projects should be fast-tracked.
  • India’s overall approach towards its small neighbors should be that of big brother. It should not be assertive given the sensitivities involved.
  • Internal balancing- Building up domestic military muscle by raising new forces, improving existing ones, or buying weapons.
  • India is also cooperating with Australia, US and Japan to contain china’s influence and also to sustain principle of free maritime trade.
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