Anumeha Singh Writes: In the post- Cold War period the center of gravity has shifted to the Asia- Pacific region. The two players India and China are emerging as major economic powers in this region and both the countries are competing hard to get dominance over the region.
The recent trend seen in the Chinese foreign policy is that it is aiming to improve its relation with South Asian countries. One of the reasons for such a policy can be to counter or challenge India’s dominant role in the region and also to marginalize India to the level of a sub- regional power.
China has started improving its relation with almost all the neighbouring countries of India, which includes Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. Due to high level of poverty in the region all these countries look forward to receiving Chinese aid and assistance.
Nepal and Bhutan are geo-strategically very important for both China and India as they both are the buffer states. Improved relations with Nepal can provide China a direct access to the South Asian region and this can hamper India’s security interest.
China is providing high degree of economic aid to all these nations along with high level of infrastructural developments in Nepal. China is also assisting Nepal in correcting its trade deficit. China has also fashioned various economic corridors to increase its influence in the region by inventing and improving connectivity in the region. China has also doubled its export to Nepal. China is now the second largest trading partner of Nepal after India. China has also become the largest foreign investor in Nepal overtaking India in the year 2014. The number of Chinese tourists’ visiting Nepal is also considerably increasing which is proving a boost to the Nepalese economy.
Nepal has is in turn accepted the “One China Policy” thereby stopping all sorts of anti- Chinese activity on its soil. There has also been a considerable increase in the diplomatic visits between the two nations.
The increasing Chinese involvement in the region can pose a serious threat to India in terms of security interest and it can also affect its bilateral ties with its neighboring countries. The South Asian nations now have an alternate power other than India to look forward to. A very fine example of this can be seen in Nepal’s increasing inclination towards Beijing.
India cannot curb the Chinese influence in the region but what it can do instead is to balance its relation with all these nations in order to remain at par with China. India also needs to review its neighborhood policy. India should build such a relationship with its neighbors where both the countries enjoy equal status. However, till now this was not the case India always had an upper hand in its relation with the smaller South Asian nations. India can also increase economic assistance and investment in these regions. It can also use cultural relation to strengthen its ties with these nations in order to balance the growing Chinese influence.