The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and the Indian Ocean region

sentiment towards economic prosperity and security implications

Naren Chitty, Dalbir Ahlawat, Mei Li, D. Gopal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


States construct domestic and international relations through communications of an economic, security and cultural nature, internationally to shape global order. The mid-20th century US-sponsored United Nations initiative and China’s 21st century Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are examples. China’s economic and military rise generates opportunities and challenges in its region and specifically for India, sharing disputed borders. Chinese construction of transport infrastructure and ports in countries in the Indian Ocean littoral, are of concern to India and some other neighbours. Economic benefits of Chinese trade and investment have incentivized neighbours to join BRI but Indian media has registered security anxiety and concern about its neighbours falling into a ‘debt trap’. A security-economic-cultural (hard and soft power) construct (combines policy transnationalization and public diplomacy initiatives) is used to examine the policy response to BRI, in India in particular, and media sentiment in selected Indian Ocean littoral countries. Both positive and negative frames/sentiments were registered for policies around economic actions of China across the sample. While security dimensions were less in evidence than economic dimensions by a ratio of 1 to 4, their presence has implications for both Chinese and Indian messaging on BRI.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalThe Indian Journal of Politics
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2018


  • Belt and Road Initiative
  • Indian Ocean Region
  • policy transnationalization
  • public diplomacy
  • security
  • soft power

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