Distinguished Professor Ali Riaz said that India’s failure to play an important role in the economic integration of South Asia and failure to pay attention to the legitimate concerns of neighboring countries have facilitated China’s efforts to increase its influence in the region. Riaz was speaking in a webinar titled “In the shadow of Dragon: Globalisation and Fractured Future of South Asia” organized by the Centre for Governance Studies (CGS) of Bangladesh on Saturday.

Dr. Subho Basu of McGill University, Canada; Nasim Firdaus, president of Bangladesh Alliance for Women Leadership, Dr. Adnan Rafiq, country director at the US Institute of Peace; Amir Rana, Pak Institute for Peace Studies; Professor Sanjay K Bhardwaj of International Relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; and Dr. Pramod Jaiswal, research director at the Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement also spoke. Zillur Rahman, executive director of CGS, moderated the webinar.

Professor Riaz said that the rise of China and its influence on South Asia has put India in a difficult situation as smaller countries in the region are being drawn towards China because of its lucrative economic offers under the Belt and Road Initiative. The rivalry between India and China will continue to grow in the future.

Riaz said countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh are not happily embracing China—they are balancing between China and India. He adds these countries need to keep in mind that China’s authoritarian approach in governance and economy, carries risks of a debt trap as well as human rights issues.