This article focuses on South Asia's role in China's Maritime Silk Road (MSR) initiative. Given the saliency of this MSR enterprise as part of ChinesePresident Xi Jinping’s “One-Belt-One-Road” strategy, how this ambitious scheme impacts China’s relations with South Asian states along the MSR’s route, i.e. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh, merits investigation. The fate of the MSR will be determined by China’s relations with these states, since South Asia is in the middle of major sea-lanes between East/Southeast Asia and Middle East/Europe. The study examines the intentions and executions of China’s MSR projects in South Asia, evaluates the political and economic calculations of participating in the MSR for regional states, and identifies actions taken by them that can decide the initiative’s success. Politically, reactions of South Asian states to the MSR are explained as: fear of expanding Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean for India; and attempts by which Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh use China to counteract possible domination by India. Economically, two MSR pathways for South Asian states are analyzed: increases in Chinese infrastructure investments; and expansion in South Asia-China trade; both of which are reducible by loans owed to China, or “strings”/conditions attached.
Bibliographical noteFaculty Research Grant, Faculty of Social Sciences, Lingnan University (Hong Kong) [grant number SSFRG16/1/2].
- Maritime Silk Road
- South Asia