China and South Asia

Beijing Builds Influence

Authored by: Andrew Scobell

Routledge Handbook of the International Relations of South Asia

Print publication date:  October  2022
Online publication date:  October  2022

Print ISBN: 9781032159881
eBook ISBN: 9781003246626
Adobe ISBN:


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In recent decades, the People's Republic of China has built up its power and influence in South Asia to become the region's most significant out-of-area great power. Dominant themes across seven decades of international relations between China and South Asia are rivalry and confrontation with smoldering strategic competition between China and India front and center, while China's most enduring cooperative relationship remains with Pakistan. The scope of the rivalry between Beijing and New Delhi is simmering and widened as interactions have increased and grown increasingly complex with burgeoning bilateral relations. Geopolitical realism, rooted in structural and ideational sources, best explains historical and contemporary developments. The outlook for China's relations with South Asia is unclear but the actual trajectory will likely see more Chinese influence which will foment both stability and instability within the region.

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