Saturday, July 24, 2021

India-China Battle Intensifies in Central Asia with INSTC & BRI Projects

India-China ‘power rivalry’ spreads to Iran and Central Asia with INSTC & BRI Projects. India-China ties have been weakened over several issues, and both nations are now battling for influence in Iran and Central Asia. The battle between Beijing and New Delhi seems to have caught global attention in the oil and mineral-rich Eurasian region

CPEC Holds Potential to Build an Economic Bridge for Better India-Pakistan Ties: China

The India-China battle for influence and power started with neighbouring countries including the Maldives and Sri Lanka but has now spread across to Iran and Central Asia. On one hand, China’s BRI project large infrastructure projects will extend to Central Asia and Europe, on the other hand, India is challenging these investments with an alternate rail and sea route, the ‘International North-South Transport Corridor’.

Are India-China Mending ties or battling it out?

With the Prime Minister’s of both India-China meeting later this week to mend the border disputes and strengthen strategic ties, it may seem that the power rivalry is over. However, this could be the beginning of a new power struggle for greater security and economic battles.

India-China Power Rivalry

The slated sea and rail corridor to be built by India with Russia is expected to be 7,000 km long. It is expected to be a new wave of success for trade in the Eurasian region, allowing India greater flexibility and opportunities. India has been concerned about losing out on such opportunities in the past with Pakistan’s presence, however, this corridor will ease access to central Asia through Iran. The strengthened India-Iran ties will allow India to trade numerable goods and products to consumers spread across Europe and Central Asia.

Additionally, procuring oil, natural gas and metals from these Central Asia will also become easier. With India investing heavily at the Chabahar port, the relations between India and Iran are at their peak.

Strong India-Iran Ties with Chabahar-Zahedan Rail Link Put Iran-Pakistan Relations in Doubt

On the other hand, China’s CPEC project is a 3000 km long road and rail corridor that goes from the West of China to Gwadar port in Pakistan. The Gwadar port is just about a hundred and fifty kilometres away to Iran’s Chabahar port. Observers thus believe that India’s influence over the Chabahar port is a measure to curtail China’s growing influence.

India and Iran have also signed a rail project from the port in Iran to Zahedan, a city in Iran. China has also started mending ways with Iran by sending freight trains and making it the pivotal point to its entry into Europe. The two projects- India’s INSTC (International North-South Transport Corridor) and China’s BRI (Border Road Initiative)- are thus competing in Iran.

Why is India Nervous with Chinese Investments in Iran’s Chabahar Port?

Other Nations Benefit from the India-China Battle for Power

While India-China are battling it out in expanding their influence, countries in the middle of this ‘war’ are reaping the most of it. For Iran, India’s investment at the Chabahar port is crucial, however, money from China in exchange for oil is equally crucial.

However, with many countries concerned about China’s growing influence and over-dependence on China, India may be able to garner more trust and influence. This could be a turning point for national interests, as India-China and other nations are always seeking for the best opportunities for economic gain and development.

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