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China-South Asian Initiative

China-South Asian Initiative:

Bangladesh has invited India to join the China-led South Asian initiative for Covid-19 vaccines and poverty alleviation.

  • It includes the creation of the China-South Asian Countries Emergency Supplies Reserve, and a Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Centre set up in China.

About China-South Asian Initiative:

  • Members: China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • India, Bhutan and the Maldives are the other SAARC countries that are not part of this initiative.
  • Intended Vision: China has different kinds of strategic, maritime, political and ideological interests with different South
  • Asian nations so it is increasing its engagements with each country on equal footing to counterbalance India.
  • India’s Stand: Given continuing tensions over Chinese PLA aggression at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, India’s stand is that other bilateral relations cannot move ahead without a resolution of the boundary stand-off.
  • Associated Issues: This initiative seems to be China ‘s strategy to contain and undermine India’s role in South Asia. This can be reflected in the following arguments:
  • Minus-India Initiative: Combinations of all SAARC member countries (other than India, Bhutan and Maldives) led some experts to suggest this was meant to be a “Minus India” initiative.
  • Diluting India’s Role in South Asia: This initiative is one of China’s attempts to make inroads into South Asia.
  • The Chinese push to this regional grouping comes also at a time when India has been reluctant to revive SAARC, turning its focus more on yet another regional bloc–BIMSTEC.
  • Countering Quad: The China-led bloc could be its plan to create what some call a northern Himalayan Quad aimed at countering the US-led Quad of which India is an active member.