China’s BRI- potential, challenges, measures with respect to India




BRI is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations.

For India, BRI is a plan to dominate Asia, warning of what some analysts have called a “String of Pearls” geoeconomic strategy whereby China creates unsustainable debt burdens for its Indian Ocean neighbors in order to seize control of regional choke points.

“India does a lot with China in the multilateral arena for its own reasons,” says CFR’s Alyssa Ayres.


What does China hope to achieve?

  1. BRI serves as pushback against the much-touted U.S. “pivot to Asia”.
  2. Promoting economic development in the western province of Xinjiang, where separatist violence has been on the upswing.
  3. Restructure the economy to avoid the so-called middle-income trap.


New Delhi’s Concerns:

India has repeatedly said it will not join BRI because it does not offer a level playing ground to the country’s businesses. It has also opposed BRI because a key component – the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – passes through PoK.

China’s engagement with India’s immediate neighbors through these corridors threatens to alter existing power dynamics in the region. Eg: port of Hambantota, which the Sri Lankan government was forced to lease to China for ninety-nine years in 2017.

  1. China may run afoul of accepted international standards and norms;
  2. BRI would undermine Indian sovereignty claims on disputed border territories and other security interests, especially vis-a-vis China and Pakistan;
  3. BRI will lead to China wielding greater geopolitical influence and undue economic and diplomatic leverage over the policymaking decisions of India’s neighbours in ways that disadvantage India.
  4. BRI is not based on principles such as good governance, rule of law, and transparency. It also suggests the initiative creates unsustainable debt burdens in some recipient countries.


Potential Advantages for India from BRI:

  1. BRI would provide a way to help finance the country’s domestic infrastructure projects. The economic benefits India could accrue might be especially pronounced in the northeastern part of the country.
  2. BCIM corridor would lead to huge infrastructure boost in the N-E India which has been historically neglected.
  3. India could access easy connectivity to Central Asia that would lead to better trade relations with those countries.


India can take steps as in:

  1. New Delhi must invest in and develop its strategic assets—like the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, for instance—to project power across the Indian Ocean.
  2. India will likely maintain bilateral collaboration with countries like Japan while also remaining engaged with entities like BIMSTEC and the Bay of Bengal community, of which China is not a part of.
  3. India must not only respond to the changes Chinese engagement is prompting in its neighborhood but also collaborate with partners to further its vision of regional connectivity, while accounting for its own capacity and resource limitations.
  4. New Delhi must seek help from partners like Japan when necessary to build and upgrade its infrastructure and create an alternative to Chinese-led connectivity corridors and infrastructure projects.
  5. Countries like Australia, France, Germany, the UK, and the United States are keen to see India play a leading role in the region. With collaboration like QUAD (USA, Australia , Japan along with India) India can deter Chinese aggression in South East Asia to an extent.