India’s reluctance toward regional integration may leave it left out in China’s…

India’s reluctance toward regional integration may leave it left out in China’s rise

Hu Weijia,

India’s strategic suspicions toward China’s rising presence in SouthAsia may hobble its ambition to be a great power, even though someobservers think otherwise.

Panos Mourdoukoutas, a US-based analyst, criticized Beijing in a
Forbes op-ed saying that China “has done very little to appease
India.” Given that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) “passes through Pakistani regions claimed by India,” Mourdoukoutas said China should make peace with India or forget about the CPEC.

The dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan does hinder
China’s efforts in pushing the CPEC forward, but this does not mean China should “appease India” to prevent the country from playing little tricks. The economic corridor initiated by China and Pakistan does not target India, and we believe that China’s efforts to improve infrastructure in Pakistan have no intention of supporting the country’s dispute with India.

Pakistan is located at the crossroads of South Asia, China and Central Asia. Strengthening economic ties with Pakistan is not the only purpose of the CPEC. People in China have high hopes of the project boosting regional economic integration and opening a new international trade route, which could benefit all countries in the region, Indiaincluded.

The economic corridor is just one segment of China’s Belt and Road initiative. Under the initiative China has made substantial efforts to boost regional economic integration by enhancing cooperation with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar to build a network of roads and infrastructure facilities. However, as a strategic location connecting East Asia, Southeast Asia and Central Asia, India’s poor infrastructure is a challenge for Asian nations to become interconnected. Although China has offered an olive branch to India to help upgrade its infrastructure facilities, it seems that India is reluctant to participate in the initiative. Additionally, New Delhi’s suspicions toward China have left the country vigilant as Beijing strengthens ties with India’s neighbors.

India should be aware that its ambition of becoming a great power won’t be realized if it contributes little to promoting regional integration and regional economic development. Some neighboring countries have not benefited significantly from India’s rapid economic growth. This will hamper New Delhi in improving its regional influence.

However, India cannot hinder China’s efforts in promoting regional
integration. Chinese enterprises have become increasingly mature and keep a competitive edge in fighting for market share in the
infrastructure sector against competitors from some developed
countries. Additionally, Asian countries like Pakistan keep a positive attitude toward Chinese efforts to improve infrastructure in the region. If India still holds suspicions toward China and excludes itself from the moves of promoting regional integration, the country will perhaps end up simply watching China’s influence among its neighboring countries rise.

by Hu Weijia

Source: Global Times.