Violent clashes on the Indo-China border on the night of June 15-16 have put India and China on the brink of war.
On both sides of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) stand the armies of two of Asia’s most powerful nations.
This tension between China and India has been interpreted in many ways. Some analysts are looking for roots in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, a major Chinese plan to expand its investment around the world.
Under the plan, China wants to build a network of roads and ports in Asia and Europe so that Chinese goods can reach world markets.
Many countries of the world have come with China in this project but India has been opposing it from the very beginning. China has made diplomatic efforts to include India but failed.
Muqtadar Khan, a professor at the University of Delaware in the United States, believes that this major Chinese project could be the cause of the latest tensions between India and China.
“India has challenged China in Ladakh,” he said. The road that India is building leads directly to the Chinese border on the Line of Actual Control. India’s strategic road is a challenge to China’s expansionist agenda.
Meanwhile, Soren Singh, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and an expert on Chinese affairs, believes that China wants to protect its investment at any cost
China’s goal is to invest by launching major projects around the world. The Chinese Communist Party has been pushing for investment in the last four decades to stay in power, and that is why the Communist Party can stay in power.
Professor Muqtadar Khan says that a similar border dispute between India and China took place in Doklam in 2017.
China was building one of its highways through Bhutan under the Belt and Road, but at that time India, using its ties with Bhutan, halted the project in Bhutan.
Are India’s strategic roads a threat to BRI ?
Professor Soren Singh says that in recent years, India has built strategically important roads in Ladakh that China could see as a threat to its BRI project.
“China has built a lot of bridges and roads along the border in the last 30-40 years, and China believes that the military benefits from the development of such infrastructure,” he said. China is also worried that India is building roads on its side.
China is also anxious about India’s airfield ‘Daulat Beg Oldy’. China feels that India’s airfield could be used as a strategic outpost and could threaten China’s future highways to Tibet and Pakistan.