'China in SAARC? To What Effect?':A Comment

S. D. Muni is Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile.
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  • May 2011

    There is a common tendency among analysts and policy makers to compare SAARC with the EU and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). This is not fair. There are significant differences among these three regional groupings. Geo-strategically India looms too large in SAARC in a manner incomparable with Indonesia in ASEAN or Germany and France in the EU. Economically, SAARC started with a poor economic base and there were no large investments from outsiders like in ASEAN and the EU to boost economic cooperation. Thirdly, the EU and ASEAN were established with a specific security perspective, considerably driven from outside and cast in the Cold War context, different from that of SAARC. That's why the communist states of South East Asia – Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam – were initially kept out of ASEAN and Russia is still struggling for sympathetic response and accommodation from the EU.