China has been admonished for exploiting economic assistance and investment pledges to secure its strategic objectives in other nations. The US-China Commission (USCC) voiced its concern that trade and investment with Beijing are not just economic challenges but it also poses national security threats. Commissioner Carolyn Bartholomew said in her opening statement on “China’s Activities and Influence in South and Central Asia” that Beijing has used the guarantees of economic assistance, development aid and investment to help secure its strategic interests in other countries but China’s economic diplomacy is fraught with danger. She further stated that China has a variety of interests in the South and Central Asian regions, including economic interests, such as gaining access to natural resources and developing new export markets.
Bartholomew went on to say that Chinese investment and lending in South and Central Asian countries can lead to unsustainable debt loads, reliance on Chinese trade and reliance on polluting extractive industries, as they have seen elsewhere in the world. She added that Chinese corporations often benefit more from Belt and Road initiatives than local economies. She claimed that China’s presence in those regions may jeopardize local governments’ and private sector engagement. Bartholomew also pointed out that China’s growing influence in Central Asia poses potential risks to Russia’s presence.
Furthermore, Commissioner Randall Schriver stated that during the previous hearing on China’s involvement in Central Asia in 2015, they questioned if China will help the US to stabilize Afghanistan and join coalition counter-terrorism efforts. He remarked that their expectations for Chinese collaboration in Afghanistan were dashed. He added that through collaborative military drills, multilateral organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and even direct military presence in Tajikistan, China is actively seeking to alter the regional security architecture in its favour.
US and Indian defence establishments retain ties that help preserve regional security
Schriver also stated that the US and Indian defence establishments retain tight ties that help preserve regional security, such as intelligence sharing and coordination between the two militaries. He continued by stating that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is encroaching on China’s borders with Bhutan, Nepal and India, posing an increasing military threat to the US, India, and other South Asian countries. At the same time, the PLA Navy is increasing its presence in the Indian Ocean and upgrading its capacity to deploy and undertake large operations.
(Inputs from ANI)