Takshashila’s Manoj Kewalramani and Shibani Mehta of Carnegie India, co-authored a book chapter titled, Influence and Hedging: China’s Engagement in South Asia, in the Routledge Handbook on South Asian Foreign Policy. You can find the abstract of the chapter below:
This chapter argues that China’s deepening engagement in the South Asian region is driven primarily by geo-strategic considerations. From this perspective, South Asia is one arc of an overarching strategy to expand Beijing’s global presence and influence. Meanwhile, for states in the region, the approach to a more actively engaged China has broadly been one of hedging. The principle underpinning this is maximising benefits while mitigating risks in order to enhance development and strategic manoeuvrability. The chapter is structured as follows. The first section discusses historical shifts in Chinese approaches to South Asia from the era of Mao Zedong to the post-Cold War recalibration. The second section explores the key drivers of Chinese policy in the new era under Xi Jinping. The subsequent section unpacks the factors enabling China’s enhanced role in South Asia, along with the toolkit that Beijing is utilizing to achieve its objectives. These include trade initiatives, investments in multi-purpose projects, arms sales and military diplomacy, cultivating local elite, and people-to-people engagement. The fourth section then discusses the factors constraining Chinese engagement, such as domestic politics in South Asian countries, structural economic issues, and competition from actors like India, Japan, and the United States. The concluding section summarizes the arguments and identifies certain future trends.
You can find the full chapter and book here.