Politics and International Relations
Co-Authors: Johannes Plagemann - Dr., GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies
Competing connectivity strategies are a core component of geopolitics in the 21st century – from the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, Taiwan’s New Southbound policy, and Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific to India’s Act East policy. The current focus on trade and infrastructure connectivity reflects both the Asian leader-level perception of immersion into the world economy as a major strategic asset and the ‘return’ of geopolitics in an age of multipolarity. And yet, competing nation-state driven connectivity strategies may also impede connectivity across Asian nations. By way of illustration we explore contemporary Chinese and Indian connectivity strategies in Central Asia and South Asia, respectively. Hereby, we show how the very nature of connectivity strategies devised in national capitals according to national (rather than subnational) imperatives and their competition frequently undermine pre-existing connectivity based on sub- and transnational initiatives and societal linkages in border regions. This finding also suggests that notions of a hyper-connected Asia driven by Chinese investments are premature.