China’s efforts to influence the academia in other countries have disconcerted the international community. These efforts, manifesting through a variety of approaches and strategies, including using students to export the Chinese state’s narratives on controversial issues and deploying Confucius Institutes for propaganda purposes, are becoming conspicuous across the world. While Beijing’s attempt to emphasize its narrative is not novel, China’s efforts to influence have become increasingly bold and aggressive, compared with a more subtle ‘soft power’ oriented approach adopted in the past.
This research explores China’s efforts to cultivate influence among academia in the South Asian region. While primarily focusing on India, the paper also examines similar efforts in Bangladesh and Nepal. For a nuanced understanding of China’s influence actions, this research employs a comparative approach by first identifying applications in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, and subsequently diagnosing the same in India and South Asia (particularly Bangladesh and Nepal). The research underscores the contrast in the character of China’s application of influence strategies across countries, which, at least for India, is also an outcome of the strained relations between the two countries. Policy suggestions gathered from the Indian experience are proposed for consumption of a wider scholarly and strategic global audience.