Politics of ports: China’s investments in Pakistan, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh
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Over the last decade China has heavily invested in deep-water ports in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Many scholars explain these investments in light of China’s economic expansion and long-term strategic goals. However, scholars have not paid enough attention to the rationale for recipient countries to encourage and even actively seek Chinese investments. This thesis will examine the rationale behind the governments of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for involving China to build their maritime infrastructure. Firstly, I argue that these countries consider China to be a favourable alternative to funding from international financial institutions and Western donors that usually have numerous conditionalities when extending development loans. Secondly, I argue that South Asian countries around India perceive China as a counter balance against the regional hegemony of India. Further, China is also a useful friend to these South Asian countries to resist the influence of external powers and international organizations such as the UN. Thirdly, I argue that Chinese funding for these projects is used to achieve local development agendas and to increase regional connectivity in South Asia. Relying on these three arguments, I point out that these South Asian governments exercise their agency based on their own reasons and domestic political concerns when they reach out to China to fund large port projects in their countries.