China professions of neutrality in South Asia cannot be taken seriously and are, in fact, attempts to create a false sense of equivalence between India and Pakistan.
India’s attenuation of economic links with Pakistan risk reducing its options in that country and making it even more dependant on China. New Delhi’s action shrinks its own leverage in South Asia while increasing China’s role.
There is a connection between the clampdown on freedoms and increasing emphasis on the centrality of the CPC on one hand and China’s foreign policy assertiveness and willingness to undermine current international order on the other.
China’s annual Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC) at the end of December 2018 struck a pessimistic note and headlines several challenges in the days ahead for the Chinese economy.
Does India have it in itself to become an economic and political alternative to China?
For democracies to compete with the Chinese model, they will have to ensure both economic and social well-being and political accountability.
The current shake-up in the Sri Lankan system is unlikely to ruffle the Chinese too much. Across the board, no matter what their personal views on China, Sri Lanka’s politicians have learnt to do business with Beijing.
New Delhi should incentivize its border communities by believing in and building on their central role in history as entrepreneurs and diplomats.
General elections due next year in India are an opportunity for political parties to turn greater attention towards foreign policy issues and elevate the level of discussion on China in the popular domain.