China watchers find a connection between the Red army’s border incursions and India’s push for stronger ties with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
At the 11-nation India-ASEAN summit in New Delhi in December, the delegates said they were increasingly looking at India with hope.
Even representatives of a couple of countries said they were worried by China.
Some ASEAN members — Vietnam, for instance — have conflicts of interest with China, especially in the South China Sea region.
And beyond the ASEAN-India ‘bloc’, there are concerns about China’s ‘string of pearls’ strategy – to secure ports of South Asia.
China is accordingly building or renovating ports in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
China watchers do not rule out Beijing’s plan to use these ports, ostensibly for trade promotion, for naval dominance off the South and Southeast Asian coastlines.
China has made massive inroads in Nepal while its footprint is all over Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Bhutan, too, is on its radar. Since 2007, efforts are on to set up a diplomatic office in Bhutan.