ICS Occasional Papers

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Impact on India & its China Diplomacy

The essay examines BRI in terms of China’s direct economic, political and domestic interests, the funding arrangements for its projects, including aid and loans, and the potential gains for the countries and the regions that are to participate in the connectivity and infrastructure oriented projects, including the maritime projects. It looks closely at the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and the possible connectivity gains that participating countries may obtain among themselves, suggesting that what is being created are ‘international public goods’, even if China has not yet engaged in participatory, comprehensive and equal dialogue among all that are current and potential beneficiaries of BRI actions. Is China’s public posture on support to Pakistan even while it is a sponsor of terrorism viable? It looks at a shifting reaction in different countries over BRI, before examining India’s options, including Chabahar port project in Iran, Mausam, and Asian connectivity for our NE States. The essay recommends a flexible Indian posture on BRI, coupled with deeper strategic thinking on foreign policy issues, and re-examination of the BCIM sub-regional cooperation, even while we maintain a reserve for now towards possible Chinese investments in the NE region. Also needed is stronger Indian engagement in its neighbourhood, backed by a rapid implementation of projects to which India is committed, plus more resources for the country’s diplomatic establishment.


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