Full Steam Ahead

Christina Larson reviews High Speed Empire by Will Doig

During a smoggy January week this year in New Delhi, I attended the third annual Raisina Dialogue – a coming-out party of sorts for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s growing foreign-policy ambitions, packed with panel discussions that cast a wary eye toward China. There weren’t many speakers from mainland China among the hundreds of attendees mingling in luxurious ballrooms at the Taj Mahal hotel, but the question of Beijing’s rising influence across Asia loomed. On one panel, the leaders of four major navies – the US, Japan, Australia and India – discussed how to respond to this common rival. Another panel asked what perilous strings were attached to new continental infrastructure-funding schemes, a clear reference to Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative.