China: Crisis Manager or Conflict Party in South Asia?

Media Coverage | October 19, 2018

China’s growing political and economic stature along with its deepening trade relationships with many South Asian countries have translated into increasing Chinese influence in the region. Some scholars have suggested that this could be the basis for a more balanced Chinese foreign policy that could play a positive and stabilizing role in South Asia, to the extent that China may take on the role of a crisis manager in a future conflict between India and Pakistan. However, a careful analysis of conflicting Chinese interests and actions in South Asia and how they are likely to be perceived by the actors in question suggests that it is more probable that China may in fact act as a conflict party in a future crisis rather than play the role of a crisis manager.

China-Pakistan versus China-India Dyads

The crux of the argument that China could play the role of a crisis manager in South Asia hinges on its economic and trade ties with the two principal states in the region, India and Pakistan. Though the China-India leg boasts of a larger quantum of trade ties, the strategic logic underpinning it is distinct from China-Pakistan economic ties.

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