India as a Challenge to China’s BRI

Date : 30-04-2019

  Author: Gurpreet S Khurana*                  

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was announced by President Xi Jinping in 2013, comprising both the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (launched in August 2013) and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (introduced in September 2013). The initiative was showcased in a manner that was too appealing to be ignored by the countries of the Indian Ocean region. Many Indians also viewed BRI as highly promising for their country. 
As a virtual “island state” constrained by landward geophysical barriers in the north, India is in dire need of developing its economic corridors and maritime transportation infrastructure. Projections indicate that by 2050, India will be the second-largest economy (in purchasing power parity terms), premised inter alia on the growth trends of merchandise trade.  However, leading Indian economists point out that a large part of the country’s export potential remains unrealized, mostly in its own neighborhood. The key reason for this loss of competitiveness is rising “trade costs,” mainly for maritime transportation, which are heightened by the lack of connectivity and port infrastructure.  Therefore, even though the Indian government never endorsed BRI, a few Indian analysts (including this author) were of the view that the Chinese initiative was pregnant with geo-economic opportunities for India, and, premised on the ongoing India-China rivalry, it may not be prudent for New Delhi to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Eventually, however, the official Indian position against BRI hardened to the extent that India was the only key country in the IOR and among the major powers  not represented at the major international Belt and Road Forum organized in Beijing in May 2017.  Read More

Department: Making Waves

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