China’s President Xi Jinping paid a three-day visit to India this week to promote trade between the two countries as part of its broader initiative to strengthen regional economic cooperation.
Over the past few years China has been building ports and making strategic investments throughout South Asia as part of its “String of Pearls” plan, says Rebecca Cruise, Assistant Dean of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a security studies and a comparative politics expert.
“They're strategically laying out certain ports or investing in certain ports along this route, from China all the way to Sudan where they have infrastructure, they have investment, and can push their products,” Cruise says.
Partnering with China could bring economic advantages to a rapidly-growing India, but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded cautiously to the idea of Chinese economic expansionism in India and abroad.
“The world is divided into two camps,” Prime Minister Modi said. “One camp believes in expansionist policies, while the other believes in development. We have to decide whether the world should get caught in the grip of expansionist policies or we should lead it on the path of development and create opportunities that take it to greater heights.”
This statement is not necessarily critical of China, Cruise says.
“But he might be perhaps making some sort of statement about Chinese motivation and whether it was really meant to facilitate development in South Asia or if it was really meant to bolster Chinese position in the region,” Cruise says.
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