Peripheral diplomacy will become a priority in China’s diplomatic practices, with its importance particularly heightened by the Belt and Road strategies, said Xue Li, an associate researcher of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, writing for World Affairs, a semimonthly journal.
Xue said China's neighboring area can be categorized into a number of subzones. While maintaining engagement with the big countries in each subzone, he said, China should be devoted to making smaller ones important players in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Among the eight members of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Xue said, India is undoubtedly the biggest country while Pakistan and Bangladesh are medium ones. So far, Pakistan has been the most enthusiastic about China’s Belt and Road proposals followed by Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, while India and Bhutan remain least involved, he said.
China should keep engaging India in the Belt and Road projects, Xue suggested. While keeping pushing forward economic cooperation with India in specific projects, he said, China could also consider the possibility of extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to India. Xue also proposed the idea of a China-Nepal-India cultural corridor based on Buddhist sites located along the border regions.
The Belt and Road is a long-term strategy in which sustainability outweighs immediate effects, Xue noted.