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Why the Belt and Road Fuels India's Fears of Encirclement

MIN READApr 19, 2019 | 11:37 GMT

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) walks with Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering during a ceremonial reception at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi on Dec. 28, 2018. Gone are the days when India's influence reigned supreme in South Asia.

(CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images)

India might be a large trading partner in its own right, but the designs of the even-larger power on its doorstep are fueling its fears of encirclement. The Belt and Road Initiative, the cornerstone of Chinese President Xi Jinping's foreign policy to blaze a trail of trade across Asia and Europe, includes five of India's neighbors: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Nepal. But worried that the initiative will grant Beijing undue political influence in neighboring capitals -- and that new ports and highways could one day aid China in a military conflict -- New Delhi is searching for ways to remain a step ahead of China's activities in South Asia. For one, India has sought to promote its influence by dangling the prospect of greater investment. In so doing, India has scored a few important victories, but its quest for unrivaled dominance in the subcontinent is ultimately a...

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