Given that China has both more money than India and diplomatic capacity that matches that of the US, it will remain a significant player in Sri Lanka.
There appears to be a lack of willingness by the Indian government to call China out publicly on its double standards and its unmet promises even as it continues to be obliquely referred to as a concern by several BJP leaders.
India will need to match China with a capable and expanded foreign service working in coordination with political parties, business communities, intellectual elites and its diaspora but also display adherence to values that are genuinely attractive to the peoples of other nations to push an ‘Indian model’ of politics and development that can challenge the Chinese one.
Indian news media while free to publish what they wish to also have a responsibility to their audiences and to themselves to not offer column space to the Chinese (or anyone else) for grandstanding or the misrepresentation or selective presentation of facts.
The Indian and Chinese governments have set their ties a very low bar of achievement talking essentially soft issues like cultural exchanges which are low-hanging fruit but which are unlikely to help repair in a hurry the high degree of bilateral political mistrust
While economic diplomacy is the mainstay, China’s maritime presence in the Middle East is also growing and together these support a clear and strong political message on China’s domestic and foreign policy interests that countries in the region are reluctant to contest.
What does the election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party say about China in national security terms?
The eventual listing of Masood Azhar as an international terrorist at the UN is as much a ‘big diplomatic win’ for China as for India – after all, Beijing prevented New Delhi from achieving the objective for ten years.
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.