Neighbourhood First: India Negotiating Speed Breakers

By bharat shakti

Following the COVID-19 Pandemic, China was aggressively pursuing an anti-India agenda, whether it was a military confrontation, the large consumer market, and economic cum diplomatic moves to dilute Indian influence in South Asia. Matters came to a head when it attempted to raise military tensions in Eastern Ladakh resulting in the Galwan incident. Nepal raising the Kali River dispute and wooing Bangladesh, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Myanmar with infrastructure projects are some examples of Chinese efforts to isolate India. However, India through some deft diplomacy has been able to keep its relationships largely stable.

Diplomatic Counter Offensive against Chinese Maneuvers

Thailand cancelling the Kra Canal project and postponing the purchase of two Yuan-class S26T submarines to 2022 has been a major setback for the Chinese. Similarly, Sri Lanka made a striking move when it awarded the contract to develop the East Colombo Port Terminal to India and Japan with a 49 per cent stake. This was seen as compensation for Hambantota. Indo-Bangladesh defence cooperation also received a major push with an agreement to build defence equipment jointly by exploiting each other’s potential and cooperation in multiple sectors including defence and security.

India had also started strengthening its ties with Myanmar by gifting a submarine and other defence equipment and 3000 vials of Remdesivir to treat COVID cases during the joint visit of the Foreign Secretary and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of India to Myanmar. Going further, despite facing an acute economic downturn, India has set aside substantial foreign aid amounting to Rs. 7000 crore for its neighbours.

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