In 1955, the convening of the Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, marked the first meeting of Global South countries—a designation that originated in the twentieth century. Participants at the conference focused on issues of colonialism and racial discrimination, among other topics. A desire to counter western dominance and interference as well as maintain non-alignment has remained a focus of cooperation among these countries. It was at this conference that China and India first began to vie for leadership of the Global South.
Despite their rise to being two of the largest economies and most powerful countries in the world, both China and India continue to classify themselves as members of the Global South. China has framed itself as an alternative to the United States by heavily investing in developing countries and building infrastructure through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). India has tried to garner influence by positioning itself as an intermediary—understanding Global South interests while simultaneously wielding influence with the United States.
Countries in the Global South continue to accept support from both China and India. However, growing friction over issues such as China’s approach to the global debt crisis and India’s obstructionism in international organizations has contributed to building distrust and dislike of both countries. It remains unclear whether the Global South sees either country as their leader. To read more about the battle for Global South leadership, see the original piece in the Hindustan Times, available here.