China as a SAARC Member: A Debate1 Abiderda Md.


Abstract: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was founded in 1985 to enhance cooperation among the countries of South Asia in apolitical and areas of mutual interest. Since then, a little progress has been attained. Member Countries follow bilateral instead of multilateral solution to issues which also weakens the potentiality of SAARC. Given the condition of SAARC, there emerged a debate on the issue of Chinese inclusion in a SAARC as full-pledged member within academia and security analyst recently. The debate can be categorized into two broader areas-i) the supporter- arguing the Chinese membership will enhance economic benefit and mutual cooperation, therefore make SAARC more effective; ii) the opponent argues that Chinese inclusion will increase conflict and therefore, has the potential of making SAARC ineffective. In this perspective, this paper surveys and analyses both the views critically, and argues in favour of a third choice out of member vs. Not member debate. Introduction: South Asian economy is the least integrated among the regions of the world for politics and rivalries. However, if Indian trade with its neighbors reach levels last attained during the Raj, India’s powerful economy could help lift and transform its neighbors, creating the world’s fourth giant economic zone after the U.S., China, and the E.C. 2 The apprehension of this economic dynamics most probably has encouraged many countries to opt for observer status at SAARC i.e. the EU, Myanmar, China, Iran, Australia, the USA etc. What will be the future of these observer countries’ status has recently gained academic interest mostly in relation to China. Though there is no proposal to expand the membership of the group3, the debate of Chinese inclusion or not inclusion in SAARC has deep impetus. Scholars agree to disagree with the issue. The debate on giving the China full membership of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is primarily seen in the context of positive and negative thinking. While China has an observer status in SAARC, its case for full membership is primarily advocated by Nepal and Pakistan but not supported by India.4 In this perspective, this paper analyses the contesting arguments regarding China’s full membership at SAARC and argues not to be so hurry to include or exclude China’s fulltime membership option at SAARC and favors to follow ‘wait’ and ‘see’ approach. SAARC- An Overview: SAARC has set modest goals and tasks since its founding in 1985, recognizing and accepting the reality of conflicts, distrusts, fears, hatreds, the ideological and political divides that grip
* At the time of publishing the paper the author, Abiderda Md. Abdujjaher, was South Asia Foundation Scholar, UMISARC, Pondicherry University, Puducherry, India-605014.

This paper was published by Annamalai University, India. To cite it, Abdujjaher, Abiderda Md. (2012). China as a SAARC Member: A Debate. In. Dr. D. Devanathan and Dr. S. Prabhakaran (ed.), Good Governance and Sustainable Development (p. 172-176). India: Annamalai University Press. 2 Stephen Cohen: Rethinking South Asia, available at accessed on 08.01.2012 3 Iftikhar Gilani, India seeks better economic integration, connectivity, 4 Moonis Ahmar (2011): China in Saarc? To What Effect?: A Pakistani Perspective, Strategic Analysis, 35:3, 508-510

some by forces that remain anchored to ideologies and policies that are against collective security and regional order. modern. secure and prosperous states in South Asia. Sujit Dutta (2011) believes that countries willing to counter. 494 7 Sujit Dutta. p. prosperous and secure regional community. with several political units that are not cohesive and are yet to overcome the legacies of colonial rule.balance India want to include China at SAARC. the Maldives and Nepal are very positive and proactive about making a success of the regional process where as India and Pakistan remains reluctant to make the forum success. It is an alternative way of organising the inter-state system. ibid. p. 499 6 . not a market economy thus weak economy cannot be able to compete with China which will in turn make them raw material producing country and the process of industrialization will stop. Strategic Analysis. greater road. ibid. the creation of harmony or conditions for regional cooperation in SAARC is absent. has active territorial dispute with India and Bhutan. creating the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA). and ii) bilateral issues cannot be discussed. But even the modest aims – such as a common front against terrorism.the region. In the South Asian context such an order has to be based on unity at the three levels of politics.5 The contemporary relevance of SAARC depends on its success in transforming a distinct geographical and civilisational space. Pakistan and Nepal Triangular special relation is directed against India. Therefore. 494 8 To know the impeding issues and how they bar regional cooperation see Sujitt Dutta. 493-501 Sujit Dutta. rail and river water connectivity for trade facilitation – have been stymied. Building strong and stable democracies and effective governance. They can be grouped as supporters and opponents. Sri Lanka.7 There is hostility between and among the countries of SAARC for economic. political and security related issues8 that imbue them to forge strategic alliances with outside powers such as China to counter and balance India. others by the weight of conservatism and fear of the unknown. China’s entry into SAARC will not help the 5 Sujit Dutta (2011): China in SAARC? To What Effect?. 495-499 9 Sujit Dutta . p. The China. He adds that China’s membership at SAARC will jeopardize the South Asian regionalism as China is the world’s largest authoritarian state and aids authoritarian regimes thereby bars democratization. member countries of SAARC follow bilateral policy to solve or bargain issues concerning the countries interest instead of multilateral SAARC platform that weakens SAARC effectiveness and opens way for external involvement. economics and security. These are the sine qua non for the building of SAARC as a progressive regional order that contributes to global security and prosperity rather than being a drag on it. ibid. In the opponents category. into an integrated. the two faults of SAARC charter handicap the success of the groups—i) decisions to be taken unanimously.6 A regional order is more than a free trade area or an economic community. tolerant societies and ethnic coexistence are fundamental to the growth of stable. rule of law. Moreover. In addition. India is much eager to ASEAN and Pakistan to Middle East. poses increasingly complex security challenges to India and the region. p. 35:3. secure and integrated democratic political order in South Asia’. Bhutan. Debating China’s Membership at SAARC: The question of Chinese full membership in SAARC is debatable. Bangladesh.9 He deems China as not being eligible to be a full member of ‘a cohesive. and China’s entry will not change it. For this reason. ibid.

Sharing of borders with some South Asian countries does not mean that China belongs to South Asia.12 Smruti S. not in terms of their bilateral political and economic ties. it cannot claim membership in SAARC. other countries located in the proximity of South Asia like Myanmar. ibid.14 S. security and strategic interests in South Asia. China’s entry would make SAARC more dysfunctional in terms of power politics. she added some more evidence against China’s full time membership into SAARC. including its core state. Pattanaik (2011): The Time is Not Ripe for China's Entry. Pattanaik (2011) supports most of the points Prof Sujit Dutta (2011) propagated while disagrees the democratic criteria13 for being member of SAARC. therefore. 501 12 Moonis Ahmar (2011): China in Saarc? To What Effect?.D. Its military ties with countries in the region have India in the background.A Pakistani Perspective. 35:3. 517-518 . Attempts to undermine India by power politics and balance of power strategies. Strategic Analysis. the states of South Asia will have to make a few choices. However. he admits that India and the other states of South Asia need a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with China as the Asia’s largest state and a rising power. India has an interest in cultivating good relations with all its neighbours given the socio-economic structure and security dynamics disregard SAARC. But that does not entail its induction into SAARC. India. China is culturally and historically not connected with South Asia. trade. not only through bilateral strategic tie-ups but also by recasting the dynamics of the regional organisation that has struggled to survive under the weight of the contradictions among its members. Furthermore. 499-500 Sujit Dutta . Strategic Analysis. can have only one effect – the final wrecking of SAARC.10 However. Muni (2011) drawing the distinctiveness of SAARC from the ASEAN and the EU went on to argue that it is unrealistic to assume that economic performance of any regional grouping can be dissociated from its geo-strategic genealogy. views that China shares its borders with five out of eight SAARC member states and has meaningful ties with all the South Asian countries. ibid.11 Moonis Ahmar (2011). political trajectories. Yet in view of China’s growing economic. 508-510 13 Discuused later 14 Smruti S. She has pointed out that China has actively supported Pakistan to keep India confined to the region. It will instead further complicate the efforts and wreck any hopes of building a cooperative neighbourhood. p. economic fundamentals and 10 11 Sujit Dutta . p. political. regardless of its cultural and historical disorientation from South Asia. progressive and stable regional order it is vital that it promotes all-round gains for the member states. her opinion of with or without SAARC (?). but in terms of their security ties. its admission in SAARC is considered useful for the region by some states given the asymmetrical regional characteristics of South Asia. Its membership of SAARC is not going to substantially change its economic engagement. At the end she seems to be very comfortable and tension free as India can impede China’s entry by veto as SAARC charter urge decisions to be taken unanimously. Nonetheless. and regionalism.regional process. China has substantial trade with most of the countries of South Asia. In the coming years as both India and China continue to rise and become major global players. For SAARC to remain relevant and grow into a vibrant. Iran and the Central Asian States may also stake their claim to membership of SAARC. 35:3. if China is considered to be a full member of SAARC. However.

accessed on 23.01. Strategic Analysis.2012 . Chintamani Mahapatra (2011) argues that China should not be offered membership in SAARC on a platter. president of Bangladesh. The grouping in the beginning had two monarchs from Nepal and Bhutan. Prof. the inclusion of China into the SAARC process would further complicate the process. ibid. 511-513 21 Dr. Sreeradha Datta (2006). 506 20 Chintamani Mahapatra (2011): China in SAARC? To What Effect?. a potential playground for power politics. Sreeradha Datta (2006): S. two military dictators from Pakistan and Bangladesh.A. p.worldproutassembly.C.17 Therefore.C.: A Potential Playground for Power Politics. Before taking up the question of China’s entry into SAARC as a member. Strategic Analysis. the record of the past three years of its ‘observer’ status should have been closely examined. and election manifestos.A. Muni (2011): China in SAARC? To What Effect? .org/archives/2006/04/saarc_a_potenti. especially China. some of them maintain political soft corners for states that at times have adversarial relations with New Delhi. ibid. It might even minimize political differences that often cloud its economic cooperation and progress. and India being reluctant of SAARC established BIMSTEC excluding Pakistan.C.A. p. China’s entry into SAARC would hurt India’s interests and may also not be conducive to the growth of the regional organisation. 16 India’s reluctance is understood when it is seen that SAARC is not even mentioned in India’s grand strategy or foreign policy vision documents.D. 506-507 19 S.html.A Comment.D. While all of these extraregional powers are economic powerhouses. toward greater economic cooperation and positive dynamism within the member states and with the outside world. It may also be relevant here to examine China’s role in other regional groupings i. Muni (2011). and one 15 16 S. One should not forget that it was General Zia ur Rahman. 35:3. Muni (2011).political context. Appropriate criteria should also be evolved for a disciplined expansion of SAARC in the future. Muni (2011). p.A.A Response.R. D.D. The presence of such states. within its framework makes S. While all of them maintain close economic ties with India.A. their political calculations are different and often in competition.e. China has used this status to reinforce its strategic and economic presence in member countries without contributing towards regional integration.18 However. Serious research needs to be done to undertake a cost-benefit analysis. ibid. 505-506 17 Nishchal Nath Pandey (2011). Chinese veto on regional development programmes might hamper the progress of the region because SAARC decisions are based on the unanimity principle.R.R.A. available athttp://www.D.21 China’s Membership at SAARC Supporting Arguments: Is democracy a criterion for the membership of SAARC? It is not. ibid. 505-507 S. argues that inclusion of observers might energize S. Dr.20 Dr. EAS. Moreover. 35:3. S. but India in particular. Muni thinks that all SAARC members except India would welcome China’s entry into SAARC to cash in on the competition between Asia’s two growing giant economies19.15 He argues the uneasy relation between India and Pakistan has affected SAARC’s success while Pakistan bars the development of SAARC by ‘terrorism as state policy’. especially vis-à-vis the observers. policy statements of ministers. The membership decision ought to be positive only if the benefits outweigh the costs for South Asia in general. 515 18 S. who had initiated regional cooperation as a part of his strategy to diversify Bangladesh’s Indo-centric foreign policy after Sheikh Mujib’s assassination.

enjoy good relations. D. S. D. Muni. Muni also agrees with Smruti S. 517 S. Nepal could be developed as a transit state in between the rising economic giants of Asia. p. In fact. ibid. Therefore whether China is an authoritarian state or a democracy has little relevance as far as membership of SAARC is concerned. and its trade volume and interactions at all levels with all countries of SAARC have been increasing. for the bilateral trade to reach $100 billion.25 Prof. disagrees with Prof. He adds that Nepal hosts the SAARC secretariat and is its founding member. S. with whom all countries of South Asia. p.e. 515-516 . so can other countries such as China and Japan. including relocation of some of its manufacturing units to these countries and buying back their products. if Afghanistan could become a member without an amendment of the SAARC charter. 506 24 S. would be happy to resolve its border issues and establish diplomatic relations with China. are seldom shared by any one of them instead they held the positive perception of a rising China. advocates strongly for Chinese membership at SAARC. Dutta to a number of points i. “I don’t think it is prudent to call China an ‘outside power’.D. ibid.D.D.27 Nishchal Nath Pandey (2011). Pattanaik (2011). India should show its strength and demonstrate confidence as regards China’s entry into SAARC instead of fear and anxiety.24 In discussion of economic dominance of China. ibid. ibid. Pattanaik to this point. p. p. Nishchal Nath Pandey (2011) counters the opinion calling it as an attempt to break SAARC. apart from India and Sri Lanka which were democracies as member countries. 493-501 27 Nishchal Nath Pandey (2011). including India. Increasing connectivity between North India and Tibet via Nepal will prove a worthwhile venture for Indian goods to make use of the Shigatse–Lhasa–Golmud railway straight into the Chinese mainland. After all. 506 26 Sujit Dutta (2011). Muni (2011). 515 28 Nishchal Nath Pandey (2011). and they have raised this issue with the Chinese side. given ‘clearance’ by India. India’s concerns regarding China’s disruptive role in SAARC. S.authoritarian ruler from the Maldives. He opined.23 Prof. Muni (2011). provides a very nice evidence saying that the yawning trade deficit with China is a matter of concern for countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. they are also making in-roads in South Asia just like India has begun implementing its Look East policy. p.22 Prof.D. China has been rather prompt in making attractive proposals to reduce the trade deficit. Advocating for its dismissal from SAARC accurately presents the hawkish and intimidating attitude of a certain section of the Indian elite towards smaller countries in the vicinity which does not contribute to India’s rising profile in the comity of nations. Muni (2011). Prof. Even Bhutan is uneasy with its frozen ‘non-relations’ with China and.28 22 23 Smruti S. Sujit Dutta (2011) provides an absurd proposition that Pakistan and Nepal can be excluded from the SAARC since the two are in tandem to forge an alliance with China to counter and balance India26. Muni (2011). p. ibid. ibid. 506 25 S. China has good relations with each of the SAARC countries. p. ibid.

he proposes to do a field research on Chinese authoritarianism (?) as he feels China is not such as the term imposes. these are not necessarily a must to propel a regional institution to success. p. he says to solve problem engagement is important.Shen Dingli (2011) writing as counter to the points that Professor Dutta posed29 as opposed to China’s full membership at SAARC opines that a regional institutional setting is largely determined by the common interests of its members. p. p. particularly after the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to India in December last year? Moreover. as emerging economies. 35:3. controlled the free conversion of its currency into dollars. ibid. p. the US killing in Afghanistan and Iraq was not stopped .35 Moonis Ahmar (2011) argues that Islamabad’s prime interest in advocating Beijing’s membership in SAARC is not to counter India in South Asia as Chinese foreign policy in the last three decades rejects alliances. Rather. he raised questions of the effectiveness of democracy and cites only being a democratic set up. Strategic Analysis. This government intervention is hardly the action of a market economy. India has. But by engaging with them. 509 30 . While a shared political vision and common interests always help. it has on-going territorial disputes with a number of them. Economically. p.31 Moreover. especially in the economic and security spheres. Therefore. Shen Dingli argues that without China being a full member.32 In terms of security. the argument that ‘(China) is not a market economy’ could hardly disqualify China. In response to democracy. how can Beijing team up with Islamabad against New Delhi from the platform of SAARC when Indo-Sino cooperation has reached new heights. It should do so when it feels it to be necessary. There is still some distance to go in this direction before attaining an all-win outcome. However. and has only shared leadership with Russia in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which it co-initiated. China made a Declaration on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.503 35 Shen Dingli (2011). China joining the EAS and CJK was not because it had had no security issues with some of the EAS members. The US launched a massive bail-out in the wake of financial crisis. so what would happen if China were to be a member? But I would like to point out that China has not challenged ASEAN’s leadership in the EAS. p. and has not dominated CJK. encirclement and containment but to be benefited from China’s enormous economic power that can be a source of strength for the countries of South Asia. India’s leadership in SAARC has been challenged by some members of the organisation.503 33 Shen Dingli (2011). Second.30 He Cites the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the China–Japan–Korea (CJK) in support of his argument.33 In countering the opinion of Chinese inclusion will raise leadership competition in SAARC. with all ASEAN members.503 32 Shen Dingli (2011). China and India can hardly afford to enter into another phase of confrontation.36 29 Discussed at page no. like China. in 2002. this in no way prevents India or China from playing an important role in SAARC and the EAS. 502-504 31 Shen Dingli (2011).504 36 Moonis Ahmar (2011). and when it can make a contribution to South Asia without India feeling its legitimate interests undermined.503 34 Shen Dingli (2011). or with Japan and Korea.34 He concludes in saying that in keeping with political sensitivities. 2 Shen Dingli (2011): China in SAARC? Too Early to Worry: A Response to ‘‘China in SAARC? To What Effect?’’ by Sujit Dutta. China ought not to be in a hurry to seek the full membership of SAARC.

Chintamani Mahapatra (2011) argues that if China is invited to join SAARC and Beijing agrees to do so. ibid. political and security relations and formulate a new SAARC charter based on the principles of collective security. the issue of China’s admission to SAARC should not be held hostage to Indo-Pak rivalry. China cannot be regarded as an extra-regional power. 35:3. MoonisAhmar also rejects Professor Dutta’s view of ‘a group of core countries that are most positive and proactive about making a success of the regional process – Bhutan. the profile of SAARC will change overnight in the international political economy. Prof. Most importantly. peace. 511-513 .A Response. the inclusion of China as a full-fledged member of SAARC will make SAARC a viable organisation and ensure stability in its functioning.Professor Moonis Ahmar (2011) counters Professor Dutta (2011) argument saying that projecting India and Indian likeminded countries as ‘core’ which marginalise other countries of the region.37 Professor Moonis Ahmar (2011) strongly argues that regardless of China’s weak cultural and historical linkages with South Asia. But a more compelling question in this regard may be: will China’s exclusion settle all these concerns? One may essentially expect China to behave more responsibly and less antagonistically towards India. This organisation will be respected for having the world’s two fastest growing economies.38 Dr. Constituting the largest single market in the world and containing three nuclear weapon powers. and Pakistan and Nepal as impediments of SAARC progress are not based on any empirical evidence. With land borders with India. India is considered to be the core of South Asia whereas. . if China is inducted?’ ‘Will the Nepalese Maoists suddenly become friendly towards India?’ ‘Could we expect China to withdraw its large territorial claims against India and Bhutan . .39 Prof Sujit Dutta (2011) raises an appropriate question – ‘Would China’s entry into SAARC change the political dynamics that have so far prevented its advancement in a positive direction?’ In answering the question he raises several other questions: ‘Will Pakistan begin to cooperate with India . all those SAARC members who at the moment are in consonance with India on various regional issues are termed as some sort of like-minded group of ‘core’ countries within SAARC excluding Nepal and Pakistan. Paradoxically. on the other hand. ibid. secularism and forms of federalism that protect ethnic. . . The large size of the country gives it shared borders with several countries and it is commonly called an East Asian country. Bangladesh. democracy. Sri Lanka. the two most populous countries and the two most significant players in the politics. economics and security affairs of the largest continent of the globe. 509 Moonis Ahmar (2011). Nepal and Afghanistan (50 per cent of SAARC member countries) and a de facto border with Pakistan. Bhutan. SAARC can emerge as a powerful entity and play an enhanced role in global decision making. India. stability and cooperation can certainly be useful for SAARC. the Maldives and Afghanistan – can begin to draw a road map for closer economic. p. and would it resolve the issue of Tibetan refugees languishing in exile in India for 50 years by granting them the promised autonomy?’ China truly will not be in a position to meet all these demands. on the one hand. But in matters of regionalism and creation of regional groupings. the drawing of geographical lines falls into the realm of geopolitical considerations. China can be a source of great help. if it is co37 38 Moonis Ahmar (2011). p. 509-10 39 Chintamani Mahapatra (2011): China in SAARC? To What Effect?. religious and linguistic identities’. The Chinese policy of promoting economic progress. Strategic Analysis.

We cannot parade the same argument vis-à-vis China to stall China’s membership in SAARC and indulge in double talk. Why is China Inclined to SAARC Membership? Prime Minister of India. Therefore. the ‘China card’ so deftly played by the neighbouring countries may just lose its impact over time.opted to play a constructive role in moving SAARC in a more productive direction. p.40 The Pakistan existential threat from India is removed now as both the countries have nuclear weapon that balance of terror secures both the country. Moreover. including India. already testify to the expected outcome. If China becomes part of SAARC and is seated around the same table along with existing members to discuss issues of mutual interests. India’s neighbours have developed a habit of playing India against China. Manmohan Sing called the observers as civilizational neighbours and economic partners41. Cambridge University Press India Pvt Ltd. and encourage them to invest in the region 40 Dr. Swaran Sing argues that Sino-Pak special relationships should not be seen as countering to India solely but also China’s interest in controlling the Xinjiang Muslim separatism. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers And Distributors 41 Sanjaya Baru (2010): ‘Role of SAARC Observers: An Indian Perspective’ in S. South Asia is no exception. Myriad examples exist where China has extended its friendship to anti-India factions in Nepal and Bangladesh. Significantly. In fact. China remained silent in most IndoPak conflict. In the recent tension between US and Pakistan China has not been eager to counter USA and replace them in Pakistan. Why should we cry wolf now? In any case. Free trade with China. “The Emerging Dymensions of SARRC”. China is the largest trading partner of India. is highly risky and is unlikely to result in bringing any great gains to South Asia’. ASEAN has signed a free trade agreement with China. Should SAARC members be terrified of a possible Chinese economic invasion of South Asia? Professor Sujit rightly points out that ‘Chinese exports will impinge upon local manufacturing and the weaker economies are likely to become essentially exporters of raw materials. Dr. Dr. In addition. 232 . while Pakistan was utmost trouble in East Pakistan frontier China did nothing to save Pakistan. China’s membership in SAARC with enthusiastic Indian support can go a long way towards reducing the mutual mistrust between the two nations. In addition. Now. successive governments in India since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru supported the demand of a permanent seat in the UN Security Council for China even after China invaded India in 1962. But the point is that the current economic relations of South Asian countries. SAARC is yet to contemplate a free trade agreement. China in SAARC may facilitate that. Chinese goods have flooded the Indian market because of our economic decisions. Muni ed. Swaran Sing ed. therefore. the New Delhi and China economic relation has improved dramatically in the last couple of years. One of the reasons why South Asian economic integration is not taking off is the fear of India’s immediate neighbours about possible Indian economic penetration into their respective economies. D. China’s special relation should be looked differently. What we need is an ‘open door’ policy that opens up the Chinese market to Indian goods. Sanjay Baru (2010) argues that if SAARC implements a genuine regional economic cooperation agreement it will earn a fresh base of life that would change the structure of the region by increased region-wide connectivity and trade where observers economic contribution would enhance the process. (2007): China-Pakistan Strategic Cooperation: Indian Perspectives.

South Asia is not only the most volatile region around China but also most relevant region with regard to the rise of 305 49 http://the-diplomat. China seeks more active role in South Asia through SAARC. 291 44 Hu Shesheng.49 Talking about SinoIndia relations.48 How can the engagement take place and in what capacity? China and the Prospects of SAARC: Liberal institutionalism argues that the growing interdependence makes a realisation of the increasing cost of conflicts due to economic inter dependency is the growing dynamics to the emerging Asian security. a wide variety of militant 42 43 Sanjaya Baru (2010). Wen Jiabo opined that ‘The two parties must respect rather than confront each other. From extreme Islamists. Among all SAARC observers. and if considered so. “China and its Neighbours”. and Marxist ultra-leftists to nationalists. p. This advantage provides the facilities for China to transform its geographic and geostrategic strength into special status into SAARC. p. The Economic Times. ibid. Open Democracy. most of whom take shelter and seek sanctuaries at in South Asia.economictimes. ibid. 232-234 Hu Shesheng (2010): ‘Role of SAARC Observers: A Chinese Perspective’ in S. China’s South Asia policy is committed to safe guarding the stability and development of China’s South Western frontier region. New Delhi: Pentagon Press. ibid.indiatimes. Thus. ‘The Emerging Dimensions of SAARC’.42 There are sufficient reasons for china itself to be present in SAARC to understand SAARC member and prevent SAARC from making decision or policies which may not be compatible with Chinese interest in South Asia43.44 Therefore. Ltd.2012 . Mutual economic interdependence reduces war. 304 48 Hu Shesheng. China should contribute more to the development of SAARC and South Asian countries more than any other observers.01. accessed on 23.. there is little hope in its progress in the near future. China’s case is different. and strive for mutual benefit rather than allowing one party to grow and the other to go under ’50. China enjoys solid bilateral relations with nearly all SAARC members. Cambridge University Press India Pvt. available at http://www. the stable supply of strategic resources. we find political shifts are preceding by economic shifts and trade p. aceessed on 23. Hu Shesheng (2010) argues China be considered as a South Asian countries. 291 45 ibid 46 ‘China wants more pragmatic and effective cooperation with SAARC’. But if SAARC fails to do so. China has some reasons to seek its special status and unique national interest in formulating its South Asia and SAARC policies.2012 47 Hu Shesheng. Muni ed. Besies bordering with five SAARC members. the security of energy trade and SLOCs. 16 November 2011. p. we should not forget that security and military forces are dependent upon fear and secrecy. available at http://articles. China is troubled by the disturbance and attacks made by Xinjiang and Tibetian extremists and terrorists. In this perspective. p. cooperate rather than get into ruinous competition with each =The+Diplomat+List&utm_campaign=1b8463a1f6 Diplomat_Brief_2011_vol31&utm_medium=email 50 Cited by Bhawna Pokharna (2010): ‘India-China Relations: Dimensions and Perspectives’ in Sri Kanth Kondapalli and Emile Mifune. the passive observer status does not satisfy them46. Therefore.47 Moreover. Terrorism has been a fairly constant phenomenon over the past century 51. and South Asian stability with a view to avoiding involvement into any regional strategic conflicts45. 51 Andy Yee (2011): Politics of fear. D. ibid.01. As a matter South Asia has increasingly become more critical to the stability and development of be benefitted economically.

overt or subtle. p. even during times of need. China has shown little interest in propping up Pakistan’s economy and has not provided substantial economic aid. stable and peaceful South Asia. full implementation of the regional convention on suppression of terrorism. etc. for instance. The purpose of regional cooperation in South Asia will be best served if the principles of sovereign equality. 52 Andy Yee. But death by terrorist attack each year pales in comparison to death by other causes such as natural disasters and car crashes. 509 Nishchal Nath Pandey (2011): Comments on ‘‘China in SAARC: To What Effect?’’. This may come from a genuine concern for citizens' safety: but a larger part of it comes from the bureaucratic desire to extend its reach and power52. will not help the process of meaningful regional cooperation. a social charter. 55 The accesed on 22/01/2012 54 Moonis Ahmar (2011). mutual trust and cooperation are kept in mind. Any other approach that favours domination. with a positive approach and a vision for a developed. the notion that Chinese ties could serve as a replacement for U.S. Beijing has built up Pakistan’s conventional military as well as nuclear and missile capabilities over the years to help keep India off balance and focused on threats emanating from Pakistan. Instead of wringing its hands over Chinese influence with Pakistan. China’s concrete economic and political interests in Pakistan itself are not that extensive. Pakistani leaders have sought to play up their country’s relations with China. attack or counter-attack launched from either side. touting Beijing as an alternative partner to Washington. Yet. In the wake of the U. the U. Lisa Curtis and Derek Scissors (2012) argued that Chinese security interests in Pakistan are driven primarily by China’s desire to contain India. ibid. ibid 53 Lisa Curtis and Derek Scissors The limits of the Pakistan-China alliance http://blogs. one can expect the region to overcome the baggage of the past and move confidently towards a better future. 514-516 55 .India or Pakistan can be highly detrimental to the cause of regional cooperation in South Asia. security schemes and intelligence apparatus.groups and individuals will use violence to achieve their goals. should seek Beijing’s cooperation in encouraging a more stable and prosperous Pakistan53. China’s concerns about the future development of Pakistan will likely limit the extent to which it will help Pakistan out of its economic difficulties.S. raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound last May (2011) and deteriorating relations between Islamabad and Washington. They have also provided some notable evidence on the limits of Sino-Pak relations. magnifying terror and anxiety in the process. However. is not especially impressive in size and has shown clear limits. complete removal of visa restrictions. governments go to great lengths to create ramified warning systems. and the degree to which China will seek to drive a wedge between Islamabad and Washington. While China has an interest in maintaining strong security ties with Pakistan. China’s economic commitment to Pakistan. China’s concerns about the future stability and development of Pakistan will limit the extent to which China will bail Pakistan out of its current economic difficulties.reuters. 35:3.54 The political good will can help to SAARC get achievements on areas such as South Asian Free Trade (SAFTA).S. ties is far-fetched. tirade. Indeed. Strategic Analysis. secure.

all members of SAARC but India support China's inclusion as full pledged member at SAARC.56 China is more able to increase bilateral relations and tackle India as is evident from the Chinese engagement in South Asia. For example. actually the fear of being dominated by China at SAARC tempt India not to support China's membership at SAARC. so far. Chinese economic relation and engagement with Sri Lanka. Conclusion: For the primacy of political and security issues. multilateral SAARC platform needs to be revived as a viable forum. both the EU and ASEAN models of regionalism have their distinctiveness therefore can't be replicated in other regional groupings. to make it dense and meaningful have yet to bear fruit. regional cooperation in South Asia remains thin. 56 Nishchal Nath Pandey (2011). the other countries of SAARC are emphasizing more on economic terms. Whereas India as well as other SAARC members also follow the same bilateral routes for cooperation. India needs to adopt a proactive role in its leadership of SAARC as it has the weight. Though there might be some truth in the Indian suspicion. However. political and economic and research on the probable impact of China's membership at SAARC. Indian security analysts view this as small neighbours attempt to counter-balance Indian dominance on the SAARC particularly. Buzan put in Crafts of Cooperation. the very multilateral framework of cooperation get weakened. The security thinkers from Indian quarter seem to be disinterested and suspicious of Chinese attempt at SAARC membership for the 1962 Sino-Indian War when India was defeated. China is a secuirty council permanent member. ibid. Interstingly. small countries of SAARC including Pakistan do not accept this Indian view instead they emphasis upon the positive benefits South Asia can get by the inclusion of China. Nonetheless. Whether with China SAARC can be benefited more or without China SAARC can be benefited more that needs to be determined before taking any serious decision on China's full membership at SAARC. India and China are the two fastest growing economies of the world. it is equal to be dominated either by India or by China. Thus the question Chinese membership should be critically analysed with all pros and crons before arriving absolute decision of making or not making. Therefore. In this perspective the Cold War like mentality. Therefore. With the new status of a ‘risen power’. in my opinion. In both the circumstances whether inclusion or exclusion of Chinese membership. Bangladesh and Nepal is perceived as Chinese policy of encircling India. A well integrated regional economy with SAARC and China will be stronger than that of EU and the USA also. we see where as India is concerning more over security and political aspects of China's membership at SAARC. There requires a comprehensive approach to include both security. economic prowess and a global appeal to draw tremendous support from around the world to SAARC as a viable regional organisation. to them. The example of ASEAN's not expanding its membership to China might not be a proper evidence to follow as A. 514 . Initially policy makers in Delhi were suspicious of smaller countries ganging up and using the SAARC platform to embarrass India. needs to be rejected.India is undoubtedly the engine for driving the SAARC vehicle. Moreover. This will help in driving regional growth and prosperity. and the efforts. Pakistan. China is capable of getting the desired outcome through its friendly states. has the largest consumer market. Acharchya and B.

Keeping in mind the Chinese stance. I think.Without doing this all arguments and counter arguments will be sided by one side or the other. then I think no country will oppose China’s membership. . The ‘observer’ status is a passive term and passive position. If then China can prove her to be useful and the counter arguments are false. which does not allow the observer to be pro-active for which China expressed her inclination of keeping more active role in SAARC during the 17th SAARC summit. and can be given all the privileges of membership keeping two terms at hand i) power of termination and ii) absence of veto power at SAARC. China’s observer status can be upgraded upto Associate membership now.