Why is China undermining India

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The influence of China, Russia and India on the future of democracy in the Euro-Asian region

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Grävingholt, Jörn et al.
Analyzes and statements 3/2011

Bonn: German Development Institute / German Development Institute (DIE)

Engl. Edition u.d.T .:
The influence of China, Russia and India on the future of democracy in the Euro-Asian region
(Briefing Paper 2/2011)

Some of the democratization processes that have occurred since the end of the Cold War have turned out to be a flash in the pan. On a global scale, for a number of years - at least until the most recent events in the Arab world - there has been a decline rather than progress in democratization. Stable democracies have emerged primarily in the regional environment of other democracies, especially the European Union. Conversely, can the strengthening of authoritarian models of rule in other regions of the world be explained by the negative influence of undemocratic regional powers? Do countries like China and Russia promote authoritarian rule around them? And how about the influence of rising democratic powers like India, Brazil or South Africa?
An analysis of the three major regional powers China, Russia and India in the context of their neighboring political regimes reveals a disturbing pattern:

• Since the late 1990s, Russia has been increasingly supporting the governments of neighboring authoritarian states. Since the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003, it has also undermined and destabilized democratizing regimes in its environment, provided it expects short-term political success from it.

• China clearly relies on regime stability in its neighboring states and thus contributes to the persistence of autocratic rule in view of the low level of democracy in the region. For repressive dictatorships like Burma and North Korea, it even acts as a protective power against international interference.

• India, on the other hand, hardly appears as a democratic counterweight. Since a phase of active interference in South Asia was crowned with little success, the country has exercised restraint in foreign policy and thus relaxed its relations with neighbors such as Pakistan and China and increased its credibility as a representative of the concerns of the global "South" - without, however, making a clear contribution to achieve more democracy in the regional neighborhood.

The influence of regional powers on the regimes of their neighboring states should not be overestimated. So far, neither Russia nor China have created new dictatorships in their environment. The development of stable political orders also depends at least as much on long-term processes within society as it does on external influences. But that authoritarian regional powers have problematic effects on their neighbors,
cannot be overlooked. At least Russia and China have contributed to making successful democratic changes in their regions more difficult.