China’s South Asia Strategy

China’s major interests in South Asia include promoting stability in both Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to curb the influence of Islamist extremists, and to facilitate trade and energy corridors throughout the region that China can access. China also is focused on enhancing its influence with other South Asian states, including Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, to further help it secure energy and trade flows from the Middle East and Europe, and as part of a global effort to extend its diplomatic and economic influence. Furthermore, China seeks to contain Indian power by building close ties with Pakistan and bolstering Islamabad’s strategic and military strength. China likely assesses that, by tilting toward Pakistan, it can keep India tied down in South Asia and divert its military force and strategic capabilities away from China.

India–China economic relations have expanded in recent years, but India remains wary of Chinese overtures to its neighbors and efforts to expand China’s maritime presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Unresolved border disputes continue to bedevil relations, and there have been border flare-ups that raised bilateral tensions on at least two occasions in the last three years.

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