NEW DELHI: With a promised investment of $30 billion in the south Asian region over the next 5 years, China’s shadow loomed large over the Saarc summit here. Beijing said at the summit here that it was willing to “elevate” its relationship with the regional body which has been dominated by India until now.

Pakistan sought this elevation in status for both China and South Korea, both observers, at a foreign ministry-level meeting here earlier this week and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for greater interaction with observer countries.

Pakistan’s position was along expected lines but India would be more worried about Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa too saying in his address here Wednesday that it was “imperative” for south Asian countries to engage with observers for their own “capacity-building” initiatives. In fact, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina too expressed the same sentiment about engaging observers.

China is looking to increase its annual trade volume to $150 billion with Saarc nations in the next 5 years. Beijing was represented at the summit by its vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin who said that China wanted to expand business links with countries in south Asia to facilitate economic growth in the region.

While President Xi Jinping had assured India of support for its membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), he had at the same time sought cooperation from New Delhi for Beijing’s role in Saarc. Indian officials had later clarified that this was not a condition put forward by China for its support to India in SCO. India is currently an observer at the six-nation central Asia security group – dominated by Russia and China – which many see as an important player in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US-led international forces.


NOVEMBER 27, 2014



About Ehsan Abdullah

An aware citizen..
This entry was posted in CHALLENGES, CURRENT ISSUES, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, REGIONAL COOPERATION, Regional Policy, SAARC, STRATEGY & POLICY and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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