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Day 88 – Q 3.How is China posing challenges in India’s engagement with the neighbours? What measures have been taken to instil confidence amongst India’s immediate neighbours.

3. How is China posing challenges in India’s engagement with the neighbours? What measures have been taken to instil confidence amongst India’s immediate neighbours.   

पड़ोसी देशों के साथ भारत के संबंधों में चीन किस तरह चुनौतियां पेश कर रहा है? भारत के पड़ोसियों के बीच विश्वास जगाने के लिए क्या उपाय किए गए हैं।


India has enjoyed substantial regional influence across South Asia due to its size, comparative economic might, and historical and cultural relevance to the region.

But over the past decade, China has become a significant economic partner to countries throughout the region, forging particularly strong ties with smaller states through trade, diplomacy, aid, and investment.

China has adopted a policy aimed at enhancing the development options of its neighbours as well as promoting new lines of communication or corridors with its southwestern periphery. Much of this impetus has been provided by the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) – a grand connectivity plan that envisions a network of states economically linked to China through a variety of commercial-financial relationships and industrial projects 


China posing challenges in India’s engagement with the neighbours.

  • India’s position is challenged by Chinese push into the neighbourhood through the BRI.
  • China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — an integral component of BRI—is a strategic threat to India. The CPEC is not seen just an economic project but also a security-centric one, especially when the infrastructure can be used for military purposes. Gwadar port is a prime example of such dual-use infrastructure.
  • China steps up its engagement with the region largely through its “Belt and Road Initiative”. It can marshal extensive resources on initiatives such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that will likely outpace other financial sources.
  • Chinese support for a port, airport, and cricket stadium in Hambantota, and other infrastructure projects revealed an increasingly close relationship between the two countries.
  • In Maldives President Abdulla Yameen imposed a state of emergency, against India’s advice. It is not difficult to figure out that China’s backing is giving Yameen the confidence to snub India.
  • China helped K.P. Oli get elected by brokering an alliance of the left parties to take on the pro-India Nepalese Congress.

Measures taken to instill confidence amongst India’s immediate neighbours

  • Just as Beijing’s engagement with India’s neighbours increases the status and bargaining position of these smaller states vis-à-vis India, New Delhi too engages with many South East Asian states who seek to hedge their dependence on China by developing more economic and geopolitical options.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has doubled down on his outreach across South Asia, stressing infrastructure development, people-to-people connectivity, and a “lift all boats” approach to help India’s neighbors gain from its own rise.
  • India has generated lots of good will in neighbourhood. For instance Land Boundary Agreement between India and Bangladesh. 
  • The allocation of India’s foreign aid prioritizes Bhutan, demonstrating the special economic relationship that India and Bhutan share.
  • Afghanistan is also a significant recipient of Indian aid. 


Nearly all of India’s neighbours have expressed a preference for (i) non-alignment or strategic autonomy as a guiding principle in their foreign relations; (ii) multi-directional economic engagement with India, China, the US, Japan and other powers; and (iii) sensitivity towards India including publicly disavowing any move towards offering military facilities or bases to external powers and thus reassuring India on its vital interests. 

With an unresolved border and a contentious history, India often views China’s activities in the South Asia neighborhood warily. Yet China’s and India’s efforts in South Asia can overlap, such as in the development of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor, opening up new opportunities for constructive cooperation. India’s “Act East” policy aims to facilitate commerce, culture, and connectivity throughout Southeast Asia, an area that also captures China’s focus. The two countries’ efforts will likely be complementary since the region’s infrastructure needs are so pressing and require trillions of dollars in capital.

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