India’s Economic and Strategic Perceptions of China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative

Amitendu Palit
Publication Date: 
April 1st, 2017

The Maritime Silk Road Initiative (MSRI) is a part of China’s experiment in scaling up economic corridors across vast swathes of diverse economic geographies. China’s involvement in a large number of ongoing transport corridor projects has encouraged it to embark on the most ambitious of them all till date. The heterogeneity among the economic capacities and integrations of various regions constituting the MSRI, particularly in efficiency of infrastructure and ability to trade, is noticeable. This article underscores these variations as important determinants of competitiveness of the constituent regions and countries. India’s perceptions of the MSRI are significantly shaped by its lack of quality maritime infrastructure capacities that make it relatively uncompetitive vis-à-vis China, Europe and most of Southeast Asia; and the impression of the MSRI’s “China-centrality” emanating from lack of mention of non-China regional forums in the Chinese government’s vision statement; and absence of proactive measures from the Chinese leadership in establishing the MSRI’s multi-country character. The article argues that it is important for India to appreciate the geopolitical character of this unprecedented infrastructure initiative, which, while emphasizing Chinese interests, might not be inimical to India’s economic ambitions, provided India is able to address its domestic infrastructure imperatives. This appeared in Amitendu Palit, "India’s Economic and Strategic Perceptions of China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative," Geopolitics, Vol. 22, No. 2 (April 2017), pp. 292-309.