Mumbai: India should be wary of China’s geopolitical ambitions, which are being channelled through its Belt and Road Initiative, warns a new paper by Darshana Baruah of Carnegie India, the Indian arm of US-based think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
As China looks to expand its presence and profile in South Asia, the paper suggests a clash of strategic interests with India is inevitable. One example of this is the Maritime Silk Road, the sea-based component of the Belt and Road Initiative seeking to establish better coastal connectivity between China and the rest of the world.
China is increasingly investing in ports in the Indian Ocean to secure passage of energy imports from West Asia. The increase in Chinese-built ports raises naval security concerns for India, which is worried that these ports could be converted into naval bases in the future.
A notable example is Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, built with Chinese loans and leased to the Chinese for 99 years after the Sri Lankan government failed to repay its debts.
The author suggests India should deepen ties with other allies to build and upgrade its infrastructure, creating an alternative to Chinese-led connectivity corridors and that it should move away from a reactive policy to China and create a coherent policy framework to secure its strategic interests in the region.
Also read | India’s Answer to the Belt and Road: A Road Map for South Asia