The political, social and security implications do not look pretty for countries participating in the BRI. New Delhi might, however, consider if absolute opposition to the BRI is ultimately doing either its relationship with China or its own global image any long-term good.
India’s democracy and its largely free and fair elections and the uncertainties they throw up, strongly challenge the ideas China’s communists have about order and stability, of ‘harmony’ in society and politics as represented by one-party rule.
While there is a clear case of Chinese double standards on terrorism, India has not helped its cause by failing to take a consistent position on the issue with China.
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.