Orbits of Influence: The Sino-Indian Waltz in South/Southeast Asian New Regionalism

  • Ajay ParasramEmail author


This chapter faces China from the vantage point of the South/Southeast Asian region. It analyzes Sino-Indian contestation for influence in their overlapping regional “orbits” of political, military, and economic influence. Looking at the Bay of Bengal, clashes over territory, and the role of Sri Lanka and Burma as sites of competition for power, I argue that the two countries are learning to cooperate and compete in ways that are respectful of one another’s vital role in Asia and the world more generally. The Sino-Indian ‘waltz’ demonstrates postcolonial learning rather than hegemonic competition as understood in realist or liberal theoretical approaches. China and India are hardly friends, however, their bilateral and regional relations suggest that they have learned too much to not be respectful of one another’s strategic interests. This chapter explores some important contours of the bilateral and regional relationship between the Dragon and the Elephant to better understand the evolving regional geopolitical and economic landscape of the 21st century.


Foreign Policy Bilateral Trade Soft Power Free Trade Area Bilateral Relation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Acharya, Amitav. 2004. How ideas spread: Whose norms matter? Norm localization and institutional change in Asian regionalism. International Organization 58(2): 239–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Acharya, Amitav. 2009. Whose ideas matter? Agency and power in Asian regionalism. Ithica: Cornell University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aiyar, Pallavi. 2007 August 28. Sino-Indian trade: Growing concern. The Hindu. (consulted December 29, 2010).
  4. Amland, Bjoern H., and Anita Chang. 2010 December 7. 18 countries join China in Snub of Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Washington Post. (consulted December 12, 2010).
  5. Banik, Nilanjan. 2007. The BIMSTEC FTA and its relevance. Centre for study in International Relations and Development: Discussion Paper # 36, 2007. (consulted December 11, 2010).
  6. BBC. 2010 December 10. Nobel peace prize: Who is boycotting the ceremony? British Broadcasting Corporation. (consulted December 12, 2010).
  7. Bhattacharya, Abanti. 2010 September. Sixty years of India-China relations. Strategic Analysis 34(5): 678–682.Google Scholar
  8. BIMSTEC. 2008a. About BIMSTEC. Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. (consulted December 14, 2010).
  9. BIMSTEC. 2008b. BIMSTEC working structure. Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. (consulted December 20, 2010).
  10. BIMSTEC. 2014 March. Declaration of the third BIMSTEC summit. Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. (accessed April 19, 2015).
  11. Braveboy-Wagner, Jacqueline A. 2009. Institutions of the global south. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Burke, Jason. 2014 September 18. India and China announce trade deals during Xi visit to Delhi. The Guardian. (consulted April 19, 2015).
  13. Chamikara, Sajeewa. 2015 April 17. Colombo Port City causing ‘unimaginable’ environmental harm. Asia (accessed April 19, 2015).
  14. Chowdry, Geeta and Sheila Nair. 2002. Power in a postcolonial world: Race, gender and class in international relations. In Power postcolonialism and internatioanl relations: Reading race, gender and class, ed. Chowdry, Geeta and Nari, Sheila. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Doval, Ajit. 2009. Interviewed by author March 21, 2009 in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.Google Scholar
  16. Doyle, Michael. 1997. Ways of war and peace. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.Google Scholar
  17. Economist. 2007 May 23. Myanmar’s pipe politics. The Economist. (consulted December 26, 2010).
  18. Economist. 2015 March 14. The Han that rock the cradle. The Economist. (accessed May 13, 2015).
  19. Emerging Asia. 2010 April 27. India blocks China SAARC membership. 2point6billion: News and commentary from emerging Asia. (consulted December 18, 2010).
  20. Escobar, Pepe. 2015 April 26. Oil geopolitics and the new ‘Economic Corridor’: Pakistan enters China’s New Silk Road. Global Research: Centre for Research on Globalization. (consulted May 13, 2015).
  21. Express Tribune. 2010 November 23. Pak-China friendship: Post Eid party organized. (consulted December 3, 2010).
  22. Garver, John W. 1987 November. Chinese-Indian Rivalry in Indochina. Asian Survey 27(11): 1205–1219.Google Scholar
  23. Garver, John. 2001. Protracted contest: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the 20th century. Seattle: Washington University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Goodman, Jack 2014 Marvh 6. Sri Lanka’s growing links with China. The Diplomat. (accessed April 19, 2015.
  25. Gupta, Arushi 2015 April 19. The China-India defense dialogue. The Diplomat. (accessed April 19, 2015.
  26. Hopf, Ted. 1998. The promise of constructivism in international relations theory. International Security 23(1): 171–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Indian Department of Commerce. 2015. (accessed April 19, 2015.
  28. Jagon, Larry. 2006 April 12. Myanmar Woos China, Russia. Asia Times Online. (consulted December 26, 2010).
  29. Karackattu, Joe T. 2010 December 28. India-China relations: It’s the economy and no-one’s stupid. Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis. (consulted December 28, 2010).
  30. Kaul, Man Mohini. 2006. Regional groupings: An overview of BIMSTEC and MGC. South Asian Survey 13(2): 313–332.Google Scholar
  31. Kelegama, Saman. 2001. Open regionalism in the Indian Ocean: How relevant is the APEC model for the IOR-ARC? Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy 5(3): 255–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Krishnan, Ananth. 2010 August 4. Perception of China not a media creation: Envoy. The Hindu. (consulted December 10, 2010).
  33. Levy, Jack S. 2004. “What do great powers balance against and when?” In The Balance of Power: Theory and Practice in the 21st Century, ed. Paul, T.V., Wirtz, James J., and Fortman, Michel. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Linxi, Li. 2015 April 21. Myanmar advisor: China properly treats border inhabitants. (accessed May 13, 2015).
  35. Mearsheimer, John J. 1994. The false promise of international institutions. International Security 19(3): 5–49.Google Scholar
  36. O’Neil, Jim. 2001 November. Building better global economic BRICs. Goldman Sachs Global Economics Paper # 66. (consulted December 3, 2010).
  37. Parasram, Ajay. 2009. The bridge or the battering Ram? Analyzing the significance of inter-regional ‘bridging’ in a comparative South/Southeast Asian framework. Germany: VDM Verlag.Google Scholar
  38. Parasram, Ajay. 2012. Erasing Tamil Eelam: De/Re territorialisation in the global war on terror. Geopolitics 17(14): 903–925.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Parasram, Ajay. 2014. Postcolonial territory and the coloniality of the state. Caribbean Journal of International Relations & Diplomacy 2(4): 51–79.Google Scholar
  40. Pardesi, Manjeet S. 2010 July. Understanding (Changing) Chinese strategic perceptions of India. Strategic Analysis 34(4): 562–578.Google Scholar
  41. People’s Daily. 2010 March 08. BIMSTEC agrees to set up energy centre in India. People’s Daily. (consulted December 14, 2010).
  42. Press Trust of India. 2010 December 17. No breakthrough on stapled visa, UNSC seat. Greater Kashmir. (consulted December 26, 2010).
  43. Rajapaksa, Mahinda. 2014 March 4. Statement by Sri Lanka. Third BIMSTEC Summit, Nay Pya Taw. (accessed April 19, 2015).
  44. Ramal, Sunil. 2009 May 11. Sri Lanka factor in Tamil Nadu. British Broadcasting Corporation. (consulted November 23, 2010).
  45. SAARC. 2014 November. Deeper integration for peace and prosperity: 18th SAARC summit declaration. Kathmandu, Nepal. (consulted April 19, 2015).
  46. Sahoo, Pravakar and Taneja, Nisha. 2010 February 5. China’s growing presence in India’s neighbourhood. East Asia Forum. (consulted December 17, 2010).
  47. Saran, Shyman. 2010 July 21. India’s China challenge. Business Standard. (consulted December 18, 2010).
  48. Shaffer, Linda. 1994. Southernization. Journal of World History 5(1): 1–21.Google Scholar
  49. Singh, Swaran. 2008. India-China relations: Perception, problems, potential. South Asian Survey 15(1): 83–98.Google Scholar
  50. Sreenivasan, T.P. 2010 December 22. Top Indian diplomat says Indo-China relationship worst in 50 Years. The News. (consulted December 26, 2010).
  51. Stobdan, P. 2010. Is China desperate to teach India another lesson? Strategic Analysis 34(1): 14–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Srivastava, Siddharth. 2007 May 27. India Grapples with Energy Issues. Asian Times. (consulted December 26, 2010).
  53. Srivastava, Siddharth. 2008 April 4. India lays out red carpet for Myanmar. Asia Times. (consulted December 26, 2010).
  54. Sengupta, Semini. 2008 March 9. Take aid from China and take a pass on human rights. New York Times. (consulted December 15, 2010).
  55. Thapar, Karan. 2010 December 22. The country needs a more informed debate on China: Nirupama Rao. The Hindu. (consulted December 27, 2010).
  56. Tiezzi, Shannon 2015 March 26. Suspended Sri Lanka port project complicates Sirisena’s trip to China. The Diplomat. (consulted April 19, 2015).
  57. Tran, Tini. 2010 December 8. Confucius peace prize: China to award nobel rival. Huffington Post. (consulted December 12, 2010).
  58. United Nations. 2007 January 12. China and Russia veto US/UK-back UN Security Council draft resolution on Myanmar. UN News Centre. (consulted December 26, 2010).
  59. Waltz, Kenneth. 1979. Theory of international politics. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc.Google Scholar
  60. Waltz, Kenneth. 1959. Man the state and war: A theoretical analysis. New York: Colombia University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Wendt, Alexander. 1994. Collective identity formation and the international state. The American Political Science Review 88(2): 384–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wendt, Alexander. 1992. Anarchy is what states make of it: The social construction of power politics. International Organization 46(2): 291–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Xinhau. 2014. China-Sri Lanka FTA to be signed June 2015. (consulted April 19, 2015).

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations