Caution amid positives in China's South Asia push
China's President Xi Jinping visits India today, the last leg of a three-nation tour of South Asia. While his hosts welcome opportunities to deepen economic ties with China, they remain wary of Beijing's true intentions.
China's footprint in South Asia has increased considerably over the past decade.
The astonishing speed and unprecedented scale of its rise have been truly transformative, coming even as the likes of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have made important strides of their own in terms of poverty alleviation and human development.
Yet, while China has opened up economically, it has remained closed politically, a quality that could still prove limiting. For example, although China is well integrated into global institutions, it has not always behaved like it is invested in the international system or satisfied with the territorial status quo.
Its recent actions regarding its disputes with Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and India have only added to its neighbours' concerns. This being so, China is squarely at the centre of Asia's enhanced economic integration and the region's increased political volatility. Amid this backdrop, President Xi will have plenty of positives to offer on his tour.
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Dhruva Jaishankar is a transatlantic fellow with GMF's Asia Program.