Zahoor Ahmad Malik
India and China are the two great giants of Asia. Being the most populous countries they are also two of the most ancient civilisations of the world. Indo-China relations, admitting occasionally assuming a sign of the accord and cooperation has generally been afflicted by abstraction and mistrust. With the possibility to make enormous commitments to provincial peace and advancement, these two Asian forces have, by outline or mischance, themselves, been the wellsprings of local strain and shakiness to some degree. Besides their centralized dynamics, the co-action of interests and moves of their neighbours, and several alien admirals would accept cogent address on the blueprint and relations amid them. The UPA Government has taken important initiatives in the field of foreign policy. The UPA Government has accorded primary attention to relations with China and has conducted substantive interactions with China. The UPA Government has attempted to accelerate the dialogue and engagement with China, which is currently one of the better trading ally of India. This paper analyses the bilateral conflict between India and China during UPA Government and the subsequent emergence of the global threats. The paper also emphasizes of the bilateral relations as the key prerequisite to ensure peace and security for the region and also for relieving the global society from the perils of a growing nuclear threat and the future directions of their relationship.
Keywords: Boundary dispute, India, China, High level visits, Economic cooperation and Defence,
For centuries, the two ancient civilizations, India and China have shared regular thoughts, religion and philosophical ethos. Majorly because of its colonial legacy and partly due to the post-colonial geopolitics, the two giant neighbours have, however, started to experience contact in their respective relationship on issues falling in the domain of boundary and the alternate antagonism for administration in the sub-continent. The issue arose between the two since the colonial period and endured a mishap because of post-colonial political and boundary disputes. Today, these two nations have risen as leading technological and economic powers. In fact, contemporary international politics cannot avoid the significance of the nature and direction of India and China relations while considering about the issue of peace and security in the larger global domain. The UPA government in India under the leadership of Manmohan Singh had focused on adding to a long haul constructive and cooperative partnership with China on the basis of the principles of Panchsheel, mutual respect and sensitivity for each other’s concerns and equality. The UPA government’s policy towards China is not only conducive to their socio-economic development and prosperity, but also to strengthening multi-polarity in the world and enhancing the positive factors of globalisation.
India and China have interacted with one another for thousands of years, especially in the areas of trade and religion. For centuries, however, the scope of their interaction was limited by the barrier of the Himalayan Mountains. When each country established a new government, India in 1947 and China in 1949, the relationship began to shift and the two countries established formal diplomatic relations in 1950. India not only just supported for China’s membership in the United Nations, but also opposed attempts to condemn the China for its actions in Korea. Yet the issue of Tibet soon emerged as a major point of contention between China and India. India and China signed the famed Panchsheel Agreement in 1954 that underlined the five principles of peaceful coexistence as the basis of their bilateral relationship. This was the heyday of Sino-Indian ties, with the phrase Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai (Indians and Chinese are brothers) being a favourite slogan for the seeming camaraderie between the two states. But that camaraderie did not last long, soon the border dispute between India and China escalated, leading to the 1962 Sino- Indian War. The war would have a long-lasting impact on Sino-Indian ties. The war also led China to develop close ties with India’s neighbouring adversary, Pakistan, resulting in what is now widely considered an all-weather friendship. China supported Pakistan in its 1965 and 1971 wars with India and helped Islamabad in the development of its nuclear weapons arsenal. The border issue keeps on being a noteworthy deterrent in Sino-Indian ties, with minor clashes at the border happening following 1962. As China and the United States grew closer after their rapprochement in 1972, India gravitated towards the Soviet Union to balance the Sino-U.S.-Pakistan axis. Following the conflict, formal diplomatic relations between India and China were downgraded and a bilateral relation was suspended, the two countries did not re-establish diplomatic ties until 1976. Although the two nations restored ambassadorial-level diplomatic relations in 1976 and in 1981 agreed to begin talks on the border issue. In 1988 during Rajiv Gandhi’s trip to China, Indian government acknowledged this recommendation and formally started the procedure of normalizing respective relations. Since then, a variety of high-level visits in the 1990s and 2000s helped to improve relations. In 2003, each country appointed special envoys in hopes of finally negotiating an end to the border dispute.
In 1954, the Nehru Government acquiesced in China’s occupation of Tibet, but failed to get China’s recognition of the McMahon Line as the border between the two countries in the east. The Panchsheel Agreement marked in that year was disregarded by China inside of a couple of years. Arunachal Pradesh is an Indian state, both general and local elections are regularly held in that state, but China claims the whole of the state as its own, though no political party or group in the state has expressed support for China’s demand. The agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in India-China Border Areas concluded on September 7, 1993 and the agreement on Confidence-building Measures in the Military Relations, concluded on November 29, 1996 were positive and peace inspiring. It was legitimate to trust that these two steps would make ready for critical grounding of troops and considerable reduction in, if not end of the war-production endeavours of the two nations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). But this has not happened, on the contrary, they continue to build their military capabilities along the LAC, particularly in the eastern sector covering Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh and in north-eastern Ladakh. Border incursions and border tensions have not stopped. India’s border tension with China is only a symptom of the larger problem in the India-China equation. Despite the talks since 1981, the big push by successive Prime Ministers, Rajiv Gandhi during his visit in 1988, Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his visit in 2003, Manmohan Singh in his talks with Premier Wen Jiabao in 2005 and President Hu Jintao in 2006, Manmohan Singh’s visit in January 2008 and various other channels like the Special Representatives talks, there has hardly been any progress on demarcation or delineation of the LAC on the ground or on military maps and LAC has become a matter of perception. India-China relations claimed some success when the Chinese Premier Wen Jiaboa visited India in April 2005. During his visit, both the countries set out the political parameters and guiding principle to settle border disputes. The visit of Chinese Premier to India was a milestone in Indo-China relations, as the Chinese Premier formally recognized Sikkim as a part of India and illuminated that China regarded Sikkim as an inalienable part of India and that Sikkim was no longer an issue in India-China relations. He also handed over the revised Chinese map to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh which demonstrated Sikkim within the international boundaries of India. Faced with criticism at home that its soft image was letting its foreign policy down, the Manmohan Singh Government has shown assertiveness in its dealing with China. At the end of the New Delhi visit by China’s Premier Wen Jiabao in December 2010, the Indian side refused to repeat its support for one China policy and China’s suzerainty over Tibet. During United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, India began to steadily increase the number of Indo-Tibetan Border Police in Arunachal Pradesh, add new border outposts, and maintain a more forward position along the disputed border to deter any Chinese incursions.
The Political Connectivity: High Level Visits
During the UPA government tenure, the first high level visit was of the then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao from April 9-12, 2005. Twelve bilateral documents were signed during the visit and of these the most important was the “Agreement on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question.” The eleven articles containing this understanding detail the foundations of a possible political answer for the waiting boundary dispute. The soul of the 'Political Parameters' is uncovered in the expressiveness of the articles where both the sides gravely proclaim that distinctions on the boundary question won't be permitted to influence the general improvement of relations. The two sides further consented to determine the boundary question through peaceful and friendly consultations. Amid the UPA government, India's approach towards China enhanced further by the visit of Home Minister Shivraj Patil to China on 7 September 2005, where the collaboration in the field of counter-terrorism and public security was stamped. In order to promote cooperation in the defence field and reduce tension on the Sino-Indian border, the Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee visited China in May, 2006. During his visit, the two sides marked a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Defence Cooperation, established an annual defence dialogue, formalized Joint Military exercises and training programmes, counter terrorism and called for study tours from senior and mid-level officials of each other’s country. The then Chinese president, Hu Jintao turned into the second president of China to visit India from November 20–23, 2006. The highlight of the visit was the Joint Statement issued that confers both the nations to take after a "ten-pronged strategy" to further enhance bilateral relations. On 11 February 2007 the Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhao Xing visited India at the invitation of the external Affairs Minister of India. The two Ministers discussed the broad assortment of issues including regional and international issues. Keeping up the high-level political connectivity between the two nations, the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went to China from January 13-15, 2008. Manmohan Singh's visit to China was significant for a few reasons – first, it reflected the determination of both the countries to extend relations despite the existence of differences over the boundary dispute; second, the visit highlighted the growing recognition of trade as an entirely new dimension between the two countries and third, the visit drew out the significance for both the nations to articulate their basic points of view on an entire scope of issues as reflected in the 'Vision Statement' discharged by Manmohan Singh and Wen Jiabao amid the visit. On 5 April 2010, India’s External Affairs Minister paid a bilateral visit to China and signed an Agreement on the establishment of a Direct Secure Telephone Link between the Prime Minister of India and Premier of China. The then Chinese Premier visited India from 15-17 Dec, 2010 and six agreements were signed on cultural exchange, green technologies, media exchanges, hydrological data and banking. On Jan 16 and 17, 2012, the 15th round China-India special Representatives Talks on boundary issues was held in New Delhi. During the meeting, representative of both governments signed Agreement in the establishing of a working mechanism for consultation and coordination on India-China border affairs. The growing cordial relations between the two countries continued with the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India on 19 May 2013. During his visit, twelve protocols, agreements and MoUs relating to people to- people exchanges including Kailash Manasarovar Yatra, sister cities cooperation and translation of classic and contemporary works; export of agriculture products including buffalo meat, fishery products, feed & feed ingredients; cooperation in sewage treatment, water efficient irrigation; provision of hydrological information of the Brahmaputra River by China to India, and Work Programmes of the three Working Groups under India- China Joint Economic Group, were signed.
During the visit of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to China, a ministerial level dialogue mechanism was established in 1988 for economic relations, trade, science and technology. To examine the potential complementarities between two nations in respect of trade and economic co-operation, a joint study group was constituted. As per its recommendations, a Joint Task Force was set up to study the feasibility of an All India Regional Trading Arrangement. There were also joint working groups on Trade, Agriculture and Energy. As the two economies raise their interaction with the developing world, their own bilateral trade relationships were also expanding. With a spectacular increase in bilateral trade during the 2000s, China has emerged as the largest single- country trading partner for India. India-China trade increased to $42 billion from $17 billion over the period 2005/6–2009/10. The flourishing trade has not however so far led to a formal preferential trading arrangement (PTA). The two countries did set up a joint study group for the purpose in 2004, but the outcome was a rather ambiguously defined regional trading arrangement. India's reservations about a well-defined and traditionally designed FTA concern its trade deficit with China, which during the five years up to 2010–11 has increased by 160 per cent. This growing deficit is an outcome both of India's limited diversification of its export basket as also of the many hidden nontariff barriers (NTBs) that China has in place for products where India is comparatively advantageously placed, such as pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, machinery, and even IT products. Chinese exports and their overwhelming presence in the power sector have also been a cause of some anxiety in Indian policy circles. India's concern with the growing deficit, while being noted by the Chinese, has found little reflection in their policy, particularly in terms of relaxation of sector-specific and other general NTBs. The outcome of the first Dialogue held in Beijing in September 2011 has been positive, in terms of delineating areas for future cooperation like infrastructure and, in particular, railways, energy efficiency and environment protection, water conservation and clean-water technology, but have shown hardly any progress on existing problem areas in bilateral trade. In Dec 2010, both countries assented to set up the India-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED). The first SED occurred in Beijing on Sept 26, 2011. The SED is a forum to examine strategic macro-economic issues affecting both countries as a consequence of changing international economic and financial landscape, to handle challenging domestic economic issues and to recognise particular fields for improving cooperation, learning and experience sharing. The 12th plan priorities of both the countries, monetary and investment policies, strategies on vitality preservation and environment insurance were additionally incorporated into the SED. During 8th JEG meeting held in Beijing, the Commerce Ministers of two sides consented to work towards a more balanced trade. India-China trade for January-October, 2011 remained at US$ 60.58 billion, recording an increment of almost 22 percent; India’s exports to china in January-October, 2011 reached US$ 18.89 billion with a growth of more than 11 percent when compared to the same period in 2010. China exports to India in Jan-Oct, 2011 reached US$ 41.68 billion, recording an increase of almost 27 percent compared to Jan-Oct, 2010. In Jan-Oct, 2011, imports from China touched a total of USD 41.68 billion, increasing by more than 27 percent over the figure for Jan-Oct, 2010. In Jan- Oct, 2011, India was the 7th largest export destination for china.
A Joint Working Group was established on boundary issue in Dec, 1988 after Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China. The confidence building measures were embraced to decrease strains on the borders between 1988-1993. In Dec, 2004, Gen NC Vij, the then Chief of the Army Staff India (COAS) visited China, the first by an Indian COAS visited in a decade, and both countries consented to extend defence co-operation. A further indication of the warming connection between the two nations was seen in 2005 during the visit of the Chinese Chief of General Staff (CGS) to India. The Chinese defence minister visited India in May 2006 and signed the first ever MoU in defence exchanges between Armed forces of India and China. In Nov, 2008, the chief of the Air staff of IAF paid an official visit to China from 02 to 05 Nov, 2008 and agreed to increase the defence exchanges between two countries and enrich the content of the exchanges. The important high level visit that took place from India to China in the year 2011 were by an India multi-command delegations and 15 member staff officer delegations from 09-14 Jan 2012. All exchanges were meant to deepen and institutionalize defence co-operations.
Issues of Concern to India
We can identify a range of issues that India perceives as challenges with respect to relations with China:
- The first issue noted, is the ongoing border dispute between the two countries. India is concerned by China’s increased outspokenness about its claims to parts of Indian Territory bordering Tibet, including Arunachal Pradesh and Tawang.
- China’s increasing interests and activities in South Asia, including its military assistance to India’s neighbours greatly concern India. India sees China’s assistance to Pakistan as clearly designed to counter India.
- A related concern for India is China’s increasing naval activities and presence in the Indian Ocean, which India has historically viewed as its home waters. India is particularly sensitive to Chinese incursions, such as military ship visits and port construction all along the rim of the Indian Ocean including in Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Gwadar (Pakistan), Sri Lanka, The Maldives and other Indian Ocean islands. India is very disturbed by the Chinese blue-water naval vessels that are conducting and will increasingly conduct activities in the region with the support of local states.
- China’s growing political and economic ties with India’s neighbours is a matter of great concern for India. In fact, Beijing has resolved its disputed boundaries with Nepal and also extended political and economic cooperation with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, among others.
- Sharing of natural resources such as water is also constituted one of the areas of concern between Beijing and Delhi. Many of Indian rivers such as Brahmaputra, Sutlej and Ganga are originated from the Tibetan plateau. The construction of a dam at the upper stream of the Brahmaputra and the approval for construction of three more dams at Dagu, Jiacha and Jiexu by China become a major concern for India.
- The growing role of China in strengthening Pakistan’s conventional arm, missile and nuclear capabilities has been a major source of concern. In fact, no other Asian country has ever armed another on such a scale and consistent manner over such long period of time as China does in Pakistan. On the other hand, China considers this as a balance of power approach which would serve the purpose of countervailing the growing India’s nuclear capabilities. 
In the context of China’s rise and India’s emergence, we have to take into the dynamics of India China relations. Both countries are required to create an ease atmosphere of confidence in which they can collaborate together and strengthen their relations. India and China are keen on resolving differences. They must therefore speed up all efforts to move forward on key issues. The following suggestions can be considered as a rough guide map of rapprochement:
- The issues in the middle of India and China are unrealistic to vanish in the next two decades and India ought to figure out how to oversee them and live with them. In the connection of the boundary dispute, it ought not be unduly agonized over its determination. Maybe, it ought to protect its region solidly and sit tight for the more great and advantageous time.
- India ought to propel its military framework building without enjoying talk on the grounds that, going ahead; this is liable to figure as an issue between the two nations. In this manner, the military foundation assembling and actualizing new CBMs with China ought to go as an inseparable unit. India ought to be arranged to talk about this issue with China.
- India should follow a three-pronged policy to further consolidate its position in South Asia. It should be sensitive to the security concerns of the South Asian states, especially if such concerns are shared by the majority population within the state in question. It ought to reintegrate the economies of its South Asian neighbours with its own. Once the economies of the South Asian countries acquire a certain level of relative parity, it should allow free movement of civilians for employment and other purposes on bilateral and multilateral basis.
- India ought to concentrate on building up extensive and quality relations with regional countries. A steady, solid and quality association with these nations will consequently convey advantages in the key domain. Closer guard association with Japan, Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore will likewise be useful. China's vital conduct ought to be continually under watch and military ties with willing accomplices must be moved up to dissuade any forceful move by China in future.
- The government ought to empower high-level coordination and present an institutional system between the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Commerce and other concerned services to arrange India-China economic relations in the privilege political setting. Furthermore, it ought to seek after financial association with China as a vital decision. Long-term mutual investment in infrastructural ventures ought to be supported.
- Since there is no legally recognised border or mutually agreed LAC, the incidents of intrusion and incursion will continue. Therefore, the two countries need to devise new CBMs to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border.
The relations between India and China present a mixed story of stalemate and progress. There are understanding and cooperation between them on several issues of common interest. But a few problems defy solution. China is still the main obstacle to India being a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Both are big countries with huge potentials and are fast rising and are perhaps destined to play major roles in the unfolding world order. There will be enough space for both, but suspicion invites rivalry. The relations between these two countries are fraught with a number of problems, and the most serious among them is the border dispute. There is a big disagreement between the two sides about their common border. Even the delineation of the LAC is yet to be done. An agreement may be possible if they show a spirit of compromise and accommodation, not in words but in action. Both the nations are engaged in a constructive dialogue on a number of issues, including political, economic, cultural and military cooperation. There is much substantive interaction between two governments, much deeper understanding of each other’s position on key issues and much more acknowledgement of common objectives. With growing economic and commercial ties, there is physical connectivity as well as the unprecedented flow of ideas. Since the beginning of the new century, the China-India strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity has continued to grow rapidly.
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