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Full membership to China a way out to revive SAARC: Experts

26 March 2018 08:23 pm - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Foreign policy experts have said China should be granted full membership of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to give new life to the almost defunct regional body owing to the rivalry between India and Pakistan, Myrepublica news reported on Sunday.

Addressing a two-day regional conference organized by Center for South Asian Studies in Kathmandu, Nepal, they maintained that it is high time the politicians in South Asia think about accommodating the emerging global power- China- in the South Asian regional framework if this region is to play a meaningful role in new world order in the making.

Professor Moonis Ahmar of Karachi University argued that the existing SAARC structure is not balanced.

“The only way to correct this structural imbalance in SAARC is to grant full membership to China. Although Pakistan and Nepal are in favor of making China a full-fledged member of SAARC, the observer status of China has not changed so far due to India's opposition,” he said.

Speaking at the conference organized with the theme South Asia Amidst a New World Order, Ahmar justified his proposal saying that China borders with at least five of the total eight member states of SAARC. Bangladesh is closer to China, while Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bhutan share border with China. 

Former Nepali ambassador Shambhu Ram Simkhada argued that it is time for leaders in South Asian countries to put their thought on how to accommodate the rise of China as benign superpower in the backyard.

“China has emerged as a superpower. How do we accommodate is something that needs to be thought upon,” he said.

Most of the speakers in the conference had noted the importance of China in SAARC process as the fundamental global political order had witnessed a significant change in the recent years.

Experts had argued that the role of US had declined significantly especially after the ascent of President Donald Trump in power, the rise of China as benign superpower and the  surge in extremism in different parts of the world.

All this have left the world to embark in a new world order, the experts said.

“Three changes have brought tectonic shift in the world order. As the world is heading toward a new direction, South Asia is also in need to embrace a new concept,” said former Major General of Indian Army Dipankar Banerjee.

Arguing that the unipolar world had already changed into a multipolar world, the experts pointed out the need to forge appropriate strategy to reflect this change in the global political structure.

Speaking on the occasion, Executive Director of Regional Center for Strategic Studies, Sri Lanka, Gamini Keerawella argued that although the importance of South Asia had grown significantly with the global power balance gradually shifting from the west to the east, the South Asian region has failed to capitalize on it due to hostile relations persisting between India and Pakistan.

Experts also expressed concerns that SAARC had failed to convene for the past three years. The SAARC Summit proposed by Pakistan could not be held as India announced to boycott it alleging that Pakistan had given refuge to terrorist elements.

  Comments - 6

  • GCC Monday, 26 March 2018 09:05 PM

    If China is to be a member of SAARC, then the name of the gathering has to be changed to something else. Otherwise it will look crazy like Israel participating in Eurovision song contest, although it is not in Europe.

    Reality Monday, 26 March 2018 09:42 PM

    Why not bring EVERY country in the world into SAARC? The real issue is SAARC represents only South Asian countries. China is not in South Asia. This guy is talking with India-Pakistan rivalry in his mind.

    rajitha7 Tuesday, 27 March 2018 08:49 AM

    Sri Lanka is the center of the world literary. Sri Lanka should form a one-world union. It should learn from mistakes in UN, SAARC, and even EU. It should be a proper collaboration of human beings that belong in this world system.

    lkboy Tuesday, 27 March 2018 09:38 AM

    Why not Russia and European countries too? That will surely revive it a lot.

    shah Tuesday, 27 March 2018 09:46 AM

    Not Foreign policy experts, but Pakistan and may be SL want China to be included in SAARC to fulfill their own selfish ambitions

    sini Tuesday, 27 March 2018 05:07 PM

    SAARC proposes connectivity by both road and rail among members to promote trade. Electritical and digital connectivity is suggested. However, Srilanka can have any of these as proposed in SAARC only through India. However , Srilanka do not want to have any connections with India either by land, rail, electrical grid or digital. First Srilanka should decide whether SAARC membership is needed for it or not.

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