Experts Discuss: Can CPEC neutralize India’s African outreach?

China can retain its competitive edge in Africa by integrating BRI’s flagship project of CPEC into its African investment strategy.

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The Indian External Affairs Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, has stated that India is Africa’s “most steadfast partner.” 

India has been aiming to expand its influence in Africa as part of its quest to become a Great Power of hemispheric importance. The South Asian country predictably plans to do this in full coordination with its new Quad allies, the Indo-Japanese “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” (AAGC). The AAGC could present itself as being “complementary” to China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

Africa is perfect for experimenting with the Quad’s various concepts due to its desperate need for more foreign investment. India believes that it has a chance to secure some tangible dividends because of its new African policy and improve its appeal as the Quad’s primary proxy for “containing” China all across the Afro-Asian (“Indian”) Ocean.

However, China can still retain its competitive edge in Africa by integrating BRI’s flagship project of CPEC into its African investment strategy. Gwadar could join Djibouti and Mombasa ports to expedite the Chinese-African and Pakistani-African trade.

This idea of joining Gwadar and even Karachi with major BRI nodes in Africa is premised on several notions. The first is that the CPEC is BRI’s top project anywhere globally because it allows China to get reliable passage to the Afro-Asian (“Indian”) Ocean. Secondly, it could reduce the transport time and expenses of the Chinese-African trade while also assisting Pakistan.

These value-added gains can help counterbalance India’s Quad-backed African strategies if China, Pakistan, and their African partners seize the opportunity. The African nations have the right to trade with whoever they want. The more partners, the better, but India and its new allies have unrelenting intentions that clash with China and Pakistan’s flexible and substantial ones.

If both Pakistan and China pool CPEC capabilities together, they can retain and expand their influence.

Originally Published in The Express Tribune

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