THE CHINA FACTOR Beijing’s Expanding Engagement in Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh and Myanmar

Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury

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“In the present world of increasing superpower turbulence, what China does in our neighbourhood is of increasing importance for India. Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury’sThe China Factor is of great immediate relevancefor India’s security as unchecked Chinese activities will make us extremely vulnerable in the Indian Ocean. Chinese activities in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, are of great concern. The book highlights these issues.”

Former R&AW Chief

“Dealing with China will be one of the great geostrategic challenges of the 2020s for India. Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury’s book breaks new ground by showing that the path to Indian strategy may lie through its neighbours in South and Southeast Asia. Packed with statistics, startling facts, and shrewd analysis, this book is a powerful read for anyone concerned with Asian security issues.”

Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, University of Oxford

“A compellingly-argued and remarkably prescient debut offering by a young scholar. It focuses sharply on the most significant geopolitical and strategic challenge facing India today—that from China. Understanding the nuances of China’s presence in India’s neighbourhood is a crucial need for the Indian policy-making establishment and the strategic community in the Indo-Pacific today. This book offers a most enlightening perspective of this complex subject.”

Foreign Secretary (Retd.), India, and former Ambassador to China

“Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury’s book should be read by policy makers, diplomats, experts and researchers who have an interest in the intense competition between China and India in four countries of enormous geo-strategic importance. The book provides a detailed analysis of China’s bilateral relations with each of these countries and the outlook for the future. Scholarship and research at its best.”

Foreign Secretary (Retd.), Bangladesh, and former Ambassador to China

“A cogent presentation of a complex geo-political, economic and security environment of the Indian neighbourhood. This premier publication by the young academic is cogent and visionary. The book being insightful and educative, promotes understanding the strategic implications and policy making, to harness the balance of power in the region. It is therefore a ‘must read’.”

Foreign Secretary (Retd.), Sri Lanka

“A comprehensive examination of the matter, Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury has produced the authoritative text. This book uncovers previously camouflaged nuggets when it comes to the potential extension of ‘benign’ economic tools into military considerations. Additionally, the recommendations for the Indian government form a robust platform for further debate and analysis.”

Former Vice Chief of Air Staff, Indian Air Force


India’s relations with China are at a crossroads. Apart from examining the complex and dynamic bilateral relations, it is equally important to highlight the nuances of China’s engagement with the countries in India’s neighbourhood and understand the strategic implications that arise for New Delhi.

Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury’sThe China Factor explores Beijing’s political, economic, and defence relations with Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, and weighs the dividends of the bilateral relationships to better comprehend the geopolitical subtleties in the region. How China’s engagement in the region is also linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s wider ambitions of national rejuvenation is also illuminated upon. The book subsequently draws out the implications for India, illuminates New Delhi’s engagement with its neighbours, and suggests policy recommendations for a way forward.

Drawing from diverse sources, including government documents and literature from India, China, and the countries being studied, along with interviews with serving and former officials, The China Factor offers a detailed investigation into China’s engagement with India’s neighbourhood, which necessitates a deeper understanding as New Delhi manoeuvres the tectonic shifts in its external environment.

Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury is a Research Associate at the Centre for Air Power Studies in New Delhi, an autonomous defence and security think tank affiliated with the Indian Air Force. His work has been published in India and abroad.

He has an M.Phil from the University of Oxford (St. Antony’s College) where he focused on the International Relations of South Asia, and a Bachelor’s degree in History from Hindu College, University of Delhi.

Shantanu has lived in Mexico, Australia, the United Kingdom, and India. Apart from English and Hindi, he speaks Spanish and a little Mandarin.


List of Figures and Tables
List of Abbreviations


1. THE MIDDLE KINGDOM: China’s Aspirations and the Importance of History
3. SRI LANKA: China’s Increasing Influence in Sri Lanka
4. MALDIVES: China’s Wider Ambitions in the Maldives
5. BANGLADESH: China’s Balanced and Cautious Engagement with Bangladesh
6. MYANMAR: China’s Multi-Faceted Relations with Myanmar



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