Washington: – Taking advantage of the Coronavirus pandemic, China is trying to increase its dominance in the Indian Ocean region. Hudson Institute, a renowned study group in the United States, advised that to counter this Chinese plan, India and the United States should devise a comprehensive scheme. The study group praised the Indian policy of enhancing naval cooperation with the neighbouring countries.
The report ‘Crisis from Kolkata to Kabul: COVID-19 impact on South Asia’ prepared by Aparna Pande, a scholar from Hudson Institute and Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States, highlights the Chinese ambitions. The Coronavirus pandemic has caused massive casualties in the Indian subcontinent, and the economies of the countries in the region have weakened. The US study group warned that the outbreak could trigger changes in the political and military equations in the area. For this, the Hudson Institute gave the example of Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
The study group warned that the economies of Pakistan and Sri Lanka had hit rock bottom, even before the onset of Coronavirus pandemic. Both these economies have suffered considerable losses in the last two months, and it is being predicted that the growth rate of both these Indian neighbours will be negative. Both these countries will be needing substantial international loans, and China will grab the opportunity. China will strengthen its foothold in both these countries, giving them massive funding. Pakistan and Sri Lanka have already borrowed billions of dollars through loans from China. Therefore, both these countries can look up to China for more funding. The study group warned that this could be a worrisome development for India and the United States.
China can also assist Pakistan and Sri Lanka to rock the Indian security and the US influence in the Indian Ocean region. The study group pointed out that not only Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but the increasing Chinese influence in Afghanistan, Nepal and Myanmar too can also pose severe threats to Indian and US interests. Aparna Pande and Hussain Haqqani have suggested, through the study group, that India and the United States need to formulate a concrete plan to counter these Chinese tactics. The Hudson Institute has also said in the report that the increasing cooperation between India and Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore can prove beneficial during this time.