Saturday, 22 December 2018

Essay on India and China Relations: From Rivalry to Enmity

Essay on India and China Relations: From Rivalry to Enmity

China and India are two of the world’s oldest civilizations which have had cultural and economic relations dating back to the ancient times. India has seen many Chinese travelers coming to the country, settling down at the court of rulers and writing accounts of their stay and what they saw. These chronicles by the Chinese travelers are a major source of knowing about our past.

However, relations between contemporary China and India have been characterized by border disputes, resulting in three major military conflicts – Sino-Indian War of 1962, the Chola incident in 1967, the 1937 Sino-Indian skirmish and more recently docklam standoff. However, since the late 1980s both the countries have effectively maintained diplomatic and economic ties. In 2008, China became India’s biggest trading partner and since then both countries have also tried to extend their strategic and military relations.

Rapid globalization of the world has infused a sense of rivalry among the nations. There is a surge to be the most potent and influential. This has compelled the nations to device methods to prove their supremacy. Similar is the case with China, which on one hand, talks of teaming up to expand the strategic opportunities whereas on the other hand, through its recent reforms, seeks to the alter the rules of global economic competition beyond trade and investment.

Irrespective of the increasing economic and strategic ties, there are several hurdles for India and China which prohibit a favorable relation between them. Although bilateral trade has rapidly improved, India still faces substantial trade inequity which seems to favor China. Furthermore, border dispute remains irresolvable. Indian media has repeatedly reported Chinese military incursions into Indian Territory but Chinese government has not paid any heed to it. However, heavy military infrastructure has been established by both countries at the border.

Most Indian strategists today view China as India's principal security threat. India is apparently the world’s largest arms importer, despite its conventional military superiority over neighboring Pakistan. A majority of the initiatives to improve India's military infrastructure are taking place at Indo-China border. In 2009, India added two new mountain-infantry divisions, followed in 2013 by the raising of India's first offensive Strike Corps, all for the Eastern Sector of the border dispute with China.

The disagreement between the two nations is not restricted to the boundary dispute. Tibet as a major remains cause of tension between the two. Moreover, China's relationship with Pakistan has been another major concern area for India. Its role in empowering Pakistan's conventional, missile and nuclear capabilities is noteworthy. China’s role in aiding Pakistan to develop projects and infrastructure in the disputed land between India and Pakistan has not gone down well with India.

China's strengthening economic and political accomplices with India's immediate neighbor too is a matter of concern. It has been noticed that China's interest as well as interaction with these countries increased rapidly. China is now more involved politically as well as commercially with countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Its increasing interest in operating on the Indian Ocean, which India has traditionally considered its backyard, is posing security concerns for India. However, China emphasizes that these activities are just meant for economic development and security for its ships. It will be a folly to trust China blindly on any such claims.

There have also been reports of Chinese dam construction on its side of the Brahmaputra River. This can pose a threat to India as China did not respect the information sharing agreement in this case. The economic tie between the nations does not look in a good shape as the bilateral trade in goods fell by around 10%. The Chinese government has also been accused of visa abuses by Chinese companies and ill-treatment towards Indian labors in China. There have also been complaints regarding cyber-spying and cyber-attack on Indian military and government network by Chinese agencies.

In recent years, India and China have engaged in a strategic dialogue. The leaders had annual summit-level talks. They interacted at annual meetings of the BRICS countries and met on the sidelines of Group of 20 and other global forums. So it can be said that India and China have had abundant high-level engagement. But the question is have these meeting had the desired result? Both the countries have been talking about working hand in hand. But how can China justify its breach of information sharing agreement in case of Brahmaputra river dam.

Chinese encroachment towards Indian border and its assistance to Pakistan clearly signify that its intentions are all but to build a healthy relation with India. At every point it seems that Chinese government has not understood the seriousness of its relations with India. Although there had been talks of fostering strong relation between both the nations but India is still at China's radar for attack.


It is believed that China is trying to use intrusion to force India to agree upon freezing its troop level on the border. The recent standoff between India and China at the Doklam plateau which lies at a tri-junction between the India, China, and Bhutan has gained much attention. It has turned into the biggest military stand-off between the two armies in years. There had even been fear of a war between the two countries. It started when India objected a road construction by the China in the Doklam plateau which China claims to be a part of its Donglang region. However, India and Bhutan recognize it as Doklam, a Bhutan territory. Both India and China increased the presence of their troops and since then there has been a war of words especially from the Chinese state media. Although the military standoff has been averted, diplomatic negotiations have not yielded many results to cool-off the passions across the border. The need of the hour is to review Chinese policies in the present context. Furthermore our prime concern should also be to safeguard Indian cyber and energy security by ending total dependence on China in crucial sectors such as communications, electronics and power.

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