India – China Relationship

India – China Relationship

India – China Relationship
India – China Relationship


Historically, India and China have had cordial relations for more than 2,000 years. The traditional Silk Road
not only served as a route for trade, but also promoted the spread of Buddhism from India to China.
Modern relationship between the two countries began in 1950, when India was amongst the first countries to
end formal ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan), and recognize the People’s Republic China (PRC) as
the legitimate government of Mainland China.
Major Issues of Dispute between India and China:

India’s Support for the Aspirations of Tibetan People
Mao Zedong, the Commander of the Liberation Army and the Chairman of the Communist Party of China
viewed Tibet as an integral part of the Chinese State and was determined to bring Tibet under its direct
administrative and military control.
Tibet serves as a buffer zone between India and China. India regarded the Chinese forceful occupation of Tibet
as an act of aggression, while China considered India’s posture on the issue as interference in the internal
affairs of the People’s Republic of China.
In April 1954, India and the PRC signed an eight-year agreement on Tibet that recognised sovereignty of
China over Tibet as its autonomous region and set forth the basis of Indo-China relationship in the form of the
Panchsheel or the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.
However, in 1959India provided asylum to the Tibetan religious leader, Dalai Lama and thousands of refugees,
who sought sanctuary in Dharamsala and in Indian North East states to escape atrocities by People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The above is the primary reason for deterioration of Indo-China relations leading to PRC accusing India of
expansionism into Tibet and throughout the Himalayan region, which finally resulted in the 1962 Indo-China
Border Disputes
China does not accept the Mc Mohan line as the legal delineation between India and China. It says that this
was a demarcation agreed upon between erstwhile British Raj and Tibet.
In 1959, China claimed 104,000 km² of territory, over which India’s maps were showing clear sovereignty, and
demanded “rectification” of the entire border.
China made a proposal to India that it would relinquish its claim to most of India’s northeast in exchange for
India’s abandonment of its claim to Aksai Chin.
The Indian Government rejected the idea of a settlement based on uncompensated loss of territory as being
humiliating and unequal.
Unresolved border disputes resulted in a short border war between the People’s Republic of China and India on 20 October 1962 and PRC pushed the Indian forces to within 48 Km of the Assam plains in the northeast and also occupied strategic points in Ladakh
Finally, on 21 November 1962, PRC declared a unilateral cease-fire and withdrew 20 Km behind its contended
line of control.
In late 1967, there were two skirmishes between Indian and Chinese forces in Sikkim. The first one was
dubbed the “Nathu La incident”, and the other the “Chola incident”, where exchange of heavy fire took place
at the Sikkim outpost.
During the whole conflict Indian losses were 88 killed and 163 wounded, while Chinese casualties were 300
killed and 450 wounded in Nathu La, and 40 in Chola.
Consequently, despite border skirmishes and discrepancies between Indian and Chinese maps, Chinese leaders amicably assured India that there was no territorial controversy on the border and on the other hand India avoided bringing up the border issue in high-level meetings.
In 1980, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi approved a plan to upgrade the deployment of forces around the
Line of Actual Control to avoid unilateral redefinitions of the line. India also increased funds for
infrastructural development in these areas.
In 1984, squads of Indian soldiers began actively patrolling the Sumdorong Chu Valley in Arunachal Pradesh
(formerly NEFA), which is north of the McMahon Line as drawn on the Shimla Treaty map.
However, in the winter of 1986, the Chinese deployed their troops on Sumdorong Chu before the Indian team
could arrive in the summer and built a Helipad at Wandu.
In 1986 and India’s grant of statehood to Arunachal Pradesh (formerly the North-East Frontier Agency) in
February 1987 caused both sides to deploy new troops to the area, raising tensions and fears of a new border
The PRC relayed warnings that it would “teach India a lesson” if it did not cease “nibbling” at Chinese
By the summer of 1987, however, both sides had backed away from conflict and denied that military clashes
had taken place.
Six rounds of talks of the Indian-Chinese Joint Working Group on the Border Issue were held between
December 1988 and June 1993.
The term Line of Actual Control (LAC) gained legal recognition after the Sino-India border agreements signed
in 1993 and in 1996. The 1996 agreement states that no activity shall overstep the Line of Actual Control.
However, both sides have their own interpretation of the delineation of the LAC on the ground, as there is no
clear demarcation of the boundaries, thereby leading to errors of perception and understanding of previous
In November 2006, China and India had a verbal spat over claim of the north-east Indian state of Arunachal
Pradesh. India claimed that China was occupying 38,000 Square Km of its territory in Kashmir, while China
claimed the whole of Arunachal Pradesh as its own.
In the recent times, frequent standoffs between troops from both sides keep happening; some major examples are given below:
May 2013
It happened in the area 30 km south east of Daulat Beg Oldi, where troops from both sides deployed for a
week long standoff.
The matter was resolved and troops from both sides withdrew, at the cost of India agreeing to destroy some
military structures along 250 km stretch near Chumar, which Chinese perceived to be threatening.
In October 2013 both sides signed a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement to ensure that border patrolling
does not escalate into a military conflict.
September 2014
Chumar is an area 300km northeast of Leh, bordering Himachal Pradesh. China has since long been trying to
reduce India’s dominance in the area. However, each time swift response and an offensive – defensive posture
adopted by Indian troops thwarted Chinese intrusion.
In the present scenario, China commenced construction work of a road, which, as per the border understanding of 2005, should have been intimated to India. Indian troops rushed to the site to stop the construction work.
Meanwhile, China also called for reinforcement and at present 1000 strong Chinese force is sitting 5 km into
India territory in eye ball to eye ball contact with Indian troops.
Demchuk is the area where LAC ends and IB starts and also the area where Indus River enters into India from
China. It was perhaps a diversionary tactics played by the Chinese by concurrently objecting to the
constructing of an irrigation canal by India at Demchuk, about 80 km from the Chumar site of confrontation.
They dispatched dozens of civilians and nomads to object and who pitched tents on the Indian side of the
LAC. So it is more of an impasse between the local civilians of both sides in this area.
China’s Policy of ‘String of Pearls’
China has highly developed surface and air communication facilities all along the Tibetan Autonomous Region
(TAR), especially, opposite Arunachal Pradesh and is in the process of preparing a dozen more airfields in
Indian side on the other hand, is highly under developed with difficult terrain and therefore, builds up,
movement and reinforcement of troops will be laborious and time consuming.
Assertive stance of China on the border is an indicator that it wants to stake its territorial claims and also
dissuade India from building up infrastructure along the border.
Also, by slowly biting into pieces of Indian Territory through continuous intrusions, the Chinese are observing
how India’s political leadership and its security forces react to such provocation.
The PLA is training for short and swift conflict preceded by a cyber-offensive. An offensive could involve the
use of missiles, anti-satellite weapons, overwhelming firepower and control over the air space. The extent and
scale of conflict would depend on Chinese motives and intent.
China’s larger strategy is to isolate India and keep it confined to the back waters of South Asia through its
policy of establishing a ‘string of pearls’ by increasing its influence over all neighbours of India, like, Nepal,
Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and of course with its all-time ally Pakistan.
It is indulging in full scale infrastructure diplomacy by enhancing its connectivity to our buffer states of
Bhutan and Nepal, forging better economic ties with Myanmar by assisting in its gas exploration and
infrastructure development in Sri Lanka and Pakistan by building ports, etc.
Dynamics of Regional Alliances
China is improving economic and military relationship with countries that are presently on the hit list of USA,
like Russia, Iran and even Pakistan. This alliance is also being viewed as a counter weight to the improved
Indo-US relationship.
The very evident shift of US loyalties towards India and the fight against terror in Afghanistan coming to its
culmination point, where USA required Pakistan’s administrative support, the dynamics of regional politics
has deflected Pakistan towards China.
During the recent visit of President Obama to India, Pakistan Army Chief was on a two day visit to China, and
on 23 March 2015, Pakistan is planning a military fanfare and a ceremonial parade that will be reviewed by the
Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Similarly, Russia is looking for new trading partners in Asia after being severely hit economically by the
crippling sanctions imposed by USA and Europe.
Also, it feels isolated at various global forums, e.g. G-20 Summit at Brisbane, Australia, US and its various
European allies confronted President Putin on the issue of its military intervention in the internal matters of
Moreover, Europe, which was the major buyer of Russia oil & gas, has now turned towards Africa and
countries like Azerbaijan where abundant gas reserves are available.
Under the prevalent circumstances, energy hungry China is its best hope and is being wooed by Russia by
laying gas pipelines right up to China. This critical interdependence is likely to bind these two nations more
China’s Economic Clout
China is the world’s fastest growing economy. China’s trade with India during 2013-14 was 70 billion which
makes China its largest trading partner.
The trade deficit between India and China is 40 billion in favour of China, i.e. China exports more and imports
less from India. That is a cause of serious concern for India.
China imports cheap raw materials from India and exports the finished products back to India due to its highly
advanced manufacturing sector, which is the major reason for the trade deficit.
It is an undisputable fact that, India, from economic parity with China in 1980, has reached to the present
scenario where China’s growth has outstripped India by four times.
India needs to catch up with its main competitor in economic growth and development to realise its dream of
becoming a regional power. For which it needs to seriously promote its manufacturing sector by implementing
its programmes like “Make in India”.
However, since 2012, the economic growth of China has slowed down and as per the recent forecast by IMF
during the World Economic Forum at Davos, India will be showing promising growth rate and is likely to
overtake China by 2016.
China very well understands that to give a boost to its flagging economy, trade collaboration with India will
pay rich dividends.
That is why during the visit of its President Xi Jinping to India on 17-18 September 2014, a total of 12
agreements were signed between the two nations at the backdrop of a military standoff in the Chumar and
Demchuk sector of Ladakh.
In the scheduled 90 min discussion that actually lasted for 150 min between the Chinese President and Indian
PM, the following major decisions were taken:
‘Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement’ was signed to improve trade balance and give greater access
and opportunities to Indian companies, especially, Pharma and Agro industry in China.
China has agreed to invest $20 billion in manufacturing and infrastructure development projects in India over
the next 5 years.
Two Industrial Parks will be set up by China in India, one in Gujarat and another one in Maharashtra.
China also signed a sister city pact between Guangzhou in China and Ahmadabad and between Mumbai and
Work plan on drug administration, like, cooperation in the field of drug standards, traditional medicines and
drug testing.
Cooperation on Trans border economic crimes and custom offences.
Cooperation to Improve the Railway sector through re-development of railway stations and induction of high
speed trains.
China has accorded permission to reopen route from Sikkim, via Nathu la Pass to Mansarovar for pilgrimage.
Discussion on China’s visa policy (Residents of Arunachal Pradesh and J&K are being given stapled visa by
China, as it refers to these states as disputed territories) and trans-border Rivers like Indus and Brahmaputra.
Decision was taken for Joint peaceful exploration of outer space by ISRO and China’s National Space
Administration Cooperation and R&D of satellites.
Finally, border issue was raised and both sides agreed to work towards proper delineation of the LAC and IB
to avoid confrontation.
Impact of Improved Indo-US Relations & RIC Summit
The recent surge in the economic and military relationship between India and USA has global ramifications.
Besides, India’s growing closeness with China’s arch rival, Japan, in the new regime has also upset Beijing.
The Indo-US joint strategic vision for the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean region that was enunciated by the
Indian PM and US President had oblique references to China’s aggressive stance in the South China Sea,
which invited unsavoury responses from China.
In a show of astute diplomacy, Indian Foreign Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj made a trip to Beijing to foster
better ties and fix the frayed nerves, besides attending the meeting of foreign ministers of Russia, India, China
(RIC) scheduled on 02 February 2015.
During her address to the media she proposed a six point template to enhance Indo-China relations, also, she
launched “2015: Visit India Year in China” to promote tourism and people to people understanding between
the two nations.
China committed to invest USD 20 billion in the industrial parks being proposed by India for setting up
projects for manufacture auto parts in India.
Chinese President Xi Jinping made an exception by agreeing to meet the visiting Indian external affairs
minister, Sushma Swaraj, on 02 February 2015.
The RIC summit is expected to formulate joint stand on global issues like terrorism and climate change.
Russia, a major supplier of arms, oil and gas, is also looking for business deals because of its major financial
crisis, mainly due to western economic sanctions.
In the present times where economic interdependence and the shadows of disaster in the form of climate
change and terrorism looms large, no nation is a permanent friend or an enemy; these are purely alliances of
Indian government is demonstrating a perceptive foreign policy by engaging every country that ‘matters’
meaningfully and resolving conflicts from a position of strength rather than playing up to any gallery.
India’s economic growth story vis-a-vis China during the ensuing years will dictate the future dynamics of its
relationship with China and its likely role in the Asia Pacific region.

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