The Role of South Asia in China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


My presentation focuses on China’s Maritime Silk Road (MSR) initiative and South Asia’s role in it. Given the saliency to the Chinese government of this MSR enterprise, which is part of President Xi Jinping’s “One-Belt-One Road” strategy, how this ambitious scheme would impact China’s relations with South Asian states along the MSR’s route, i.e., India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, merits investigation. The extent of the MSR’s success will be determined by China’s relations with the maritime states of South Asia, since South Asia is in the middle of the sea-lanes of communications and commerce between East/Southeast Asia and Middle East/Europe. This study examines the intentions and executions of China’s MSR projects in South Asia, evaluates the political and economic costs and benefits of participation in the MSR for the region’s states, and identifies actions taken by them that may potentially enhance or diminish the MSR’s success for China. Politically, the calculations behind the reactions of South Asian states to the MSR initiative are explained as a function of: existing territorial disputes with China or fear of Chinese expansionism or assertion of hegemony in the Indian Ocean rim for India, and the extent to which Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh attempt to use a rising China as a counterweight to possible domination by neighboring India. Economically, two dominating pathways through which the benefits from the MSR could be realized for South Asian states are analyzed: increases in infrastructure investments, and expansion in South Asia-China trade, which may be reduced by loans owed to China, or “strings” or conditions attached by it.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2017
EventThe 10th International Convention of Asia Scholars - Thailand, Chiangmai, Thailand
Duration: 20 Jul 201723 Jul 2017


ConferenceThe 10th International Convention of Asia Scholars
Abbreviated titleICAS 10
OtherInternational Institute of Asian Studies, Regional Center for Social Change and Sustainable Development, and Faculty of Social Sciences of Chiang Mai University
Internet address


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