China and India, the two giants who will be the main subject of many stories to come.
Much has been said here about China's expansionist activities in East Asia, military, economic, and political expansion.
Each of the ways of China's expansion is expressed in other ways.
The military way is reflected in China's activities in the South China Sea, in Duklam Plateau in Bhutan, in the East China Sea near Japan.
The economic way is expressed through endless ventures in South America, Africa, and the Middle East but above all, through two huge projects. The first, the AIIB, the Chinese bank that competes with the World Bank for loans for development. And the second, probably the largest project in human history, the establishment of the new Silk Road (OBOR) between China and Europe in two channels, a land road and maritime road.
The economic path leads naturally to the political path, that is, to the political influence that China is trying to achieve in the international arena. The best example is the Philippines who fought the Chinese in the International Court of Justice in The Hague following the Chinese takeover of territories adjacent to the Philippines in the South China Sea. Last year, the International Court of Justice ruled against China. Nevertheless, the Philippines chose to lower the tone of the confrontation with China, mainly because of the dividends expected from economic cooperation with China.
One of the political goals of the Chinese is to expand their political influence throughout East Asia, especially at the expense of India, in the countries closest to it. India borders several countries: Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka (with a maritime border), Pakistan, China, and the Indian Ocean to the east and the Arabian Sea to the west.
Pakistan, India's most immediate and dangerous enemy, is in close alliance with China. Nepal, signed with India on a friendship treaty since the 1950s, is obliged to inform India and obtain its consent before purchasing third-party weapons. Now Nepal is seeking to change articles of the treaty to allow it more independence to be expressed in its ability to acquire weapons from China.
In January of 2017, China offered Nepal a joint military exercise, a proposal that aroused concern on the Indian side. Not because of the military aspect, but because of the potential for geo-political change in India's "back yard."
The Chinese offer is only one aspect of the growing cooperation between China and Nepal, a cooperation expressed by Chinese support after the earthquake in Nepal.
At the other end, south of India, lies Sri Lanka (a "holy island" in Sanskrit), a country with 75 percent of its population Buddhist, 10 percent Hindus, and the rest Muslims and Christians. Due to religion, due to physical closeness, and historical ties, the alliance between India and Sri Lanka is very natural. But that is not what will stop the Chinese.
Sri Lanka is a poor country with a GDP of about $ 11,600, still licking its wounds because of the long struggle between the Tamil Tigers and the government and desperately in need of development and investment, exactly what the Chinese are willing to give as part of the New Silk Road project.
China has already built a seaport and uses a strategy of loans to create dependency between the host countries and China. Chinese loans do not meet the conditions set by the World Bank for reforms and structural changes. China did the same in Sri Lanka, leading to an internal dispute in Sri Lanka over the real need for a loan from the Chinese.
Now there is an unseen competition between the Indians and Chinese over the continued investment in Sri Lanka; the main thing is the port area built as part of the new Silk Road and is located near one of the most crowded shipping routes in the world.
The bad news for India is the intense Chinese involvement in the countries closest to India, almost to say, sister countries, and China's attempt to stabilize and establish significant influence in all countries surrounding India.
The good news for India is that India is no longer stagnant and retaliating. Narendra Modi's India is aware of its power and size and aspires to establish itself as an East Asian alternative to China.