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Backgrounder: China’s Emerging Playbook in South Asia

Tourists taking pictures in front of Sri Lanka's Chinese-built Lotus Tower, a symbol of China's fraught but growing influence in smaller South Asian countries. Image: Ishara Kodikara / AFP

China’s outsized role in two key South Asian debt crises (Sri Lanka and Pakistan) and its fractious cross-border relationship with India have overshadowed a larger trend: Beijing is increasingly becoming an adept navigator of South Asian complexities in order to grow its own influence in the region.

This is the finding of a fascinating set of reports on Chinese messaging and influence-building in smaller South Asian states, especially Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, published by the Indian think tank Centre for Social and Economic Progress.

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