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.