Is India being isolated from its neighbours? Countries like Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have certainly come closer to China.
China’s growing interference in the world is not hidden from anyone. The country has implemented many policies at several levels to establish its dominance. Apart from foreign policy and diplomacy, the country is now spreading its culture and values too.
China also wants to make many new international routes at a cost of $900 billion. Beijing will do all this under the project called the “One Belt, One Road” project.
Chinese presence in Sri Lanka is no big secret. Between 2005 and 2017, Beijing has invested $15 billion on projects in Sri Lanka. At the same time, the Chinese defence has given a clear message to India, which sees the Chinese presence in Sri Lanka as an infiltration in its area of influence. The ministry, while giving a clear reply to India, said, “The cooperation between the Chinese and Sri Lankan militaries is beneficial to regional peace and stability, is not aimed at any third party and should not be interfered in by a third party,”
For India, this is going to bothersome. The Indian foreign policy does rely somewhat heavily on its relationship with Sri Lanka, but the Sri Lankan people must have also had impatient expectations, which India failed to pay attention to and respond. And this is exactly where China has succeeded.
There may be some Sri Lankan people who say that they are dissatisfied and unhappy with the Chinese presence there – which, they think, may be dangerous. While this may be true, it’s also equally true that when a desire for a prosperous future surfaces in their brains, they are likely to find this opportunity very attractive.
On the other hand, India is likely to be isolated from many sides. It has a clear hostility against Pakistan. Its relationship with the Maldives is also unstable. The position of Nepal is very confusing. And Sri Lanka is clearly trapped in a lucrative delusion.
India is actually facing one of its most serious challenges to its foreign relations and security. If India has to work together, then it needs not only imagination but also speed and efficiency, so that the promises made to Sri Lanka and the other countries can be fulfilled.
The growing influence of China in the past decade has even reached the Maldives. China has invested extensively in the Maldives. China has now become an expert in making ports and infrastructure. Many countries want to use this capability. China’s services seem to be cheap compared to what the West may offer. Due to these services, China also gets access to the markets in other countries. With its exports-oriented economy, China is hungry for new markets all the time.
The political crisis in Maldives is engaging both India and China. As it stands, the Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen has even signed Beijing’s One Belt, One Road project.
On the other hand, India has failed to divide the shares of its economic prosperity with its neighbouring countries. Even in the case of engineering, research and development, India is far behind China.
The issue of security makes these equations more complicated. By making big ports in countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Djibouti, China has intensively taken up its business and military interests. Meanwhile, India is still highly confused with itself. A clear example of this is that in 1947, India had a more developed transportation network than China. But after 70 years, China has gone far ahead of India. It has a world-class rail network, some of the largest ports and numerous airports.
But, this advantage has been used by China to suppress things more than protecting its strategic interests. In fact, Beijing’s stance is even destroying India’s relationship with its neighbouring countries, Japan and even the ASEAN. After heavy investments in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar, China has now deepened its penetration even in the Indian Ocean territory.
In response to this, India is trying to stop China’s expansion in collaboration with Vietnam, Japan, Australia and the United States. Countries such as the Maldives are just the pawns in this chess game, but the time may come when even the king will be in danger due to such an attitude.