This presentation explores China’s strategic interests in South Asia by focusing on Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. It examines the drivers of China’s foreign policy with regard to the three countries along with highlighting the obstacles and apprehensions Beijing currently faces in its bilateral relations with them. It argues that China has transitioned from following a non-interference approach to South Asia to a more overt role. With this increased involvement in the countries’ domestic politics and getting caught up in domestic political and security issues, China appears to have overextended its engagement in Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Thus, rather than achieving its foreign policy objectives, Beijing is likely to get distracted, having to react to developments rather than paving the way for deeper engagement. Nevertheless, China’s influence in the region and its ability to recalibrate should not be underestimated, and India should remain vigilant.
About the Speaker
Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury is a Research Associate at the Institute of Chinese Studies with an interest in China’s relations with the South Asian region. Shantanu is the author of The China Factor: Beijing's Expanding Engagement with Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, and Myanmar (Routledge, 2023). The book examines China’s political, economic, and defence relations with the four nations and weighs the dividends of the bilateral relationships to better comprehend the geopolitical subtleties in the region, along with the implications for India. He was previously a Research Associate at the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS), and has also worked at the United Service Institution of India (USI). Shantanu has an M.Phil. from the University of Oxford (St. Antony's College), where he focused on the International Relations of South Asia, and a Bachelor’s degree in History from Hindu College, University of Delhi.
About the Chair
Ashok K. Kantha is an Honorary Fellow and former Director (2017- 22) of the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi; a Distinguished Fellow at Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi; and Chair of the Core Group on China of the Confederation of Indian Industry. A career diplomat, Kantha was Ambassador of India to China until January 2016. Prior to this, he was Secretary (East) at Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi with responsibility for about 65 countries in India’s extended neighbourhood. His previous assignments include High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka and Malaysia, Consul General in Hong Kong, and Deputy Chief of Mission in Kathmandu (Nepal). Earlier, Kantha served in different capacities at Indian Missions in Singapore, China and the USA, and at headquarters in New Delhi. In his diplomatic career spanning over 38 years, Kantha specialized in India’s neighbourhood and Asian affairs, with a particular focus on China. Apart from three assignments in China, he served as Joint Secretary (East Asia) and Director (China) at Ministry of External Affairs for periods of four years each. He has an advanced certificate in Chinese language from National University of Singapore.
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16th All India Conference of China Studies (AICCS)
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