Home Contact Us
Search :
   

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#2989, 26 October 2009
 
China at 60 - Sino-Indian Tensions
PR Chari
Research Professor, IPCS
email: prchari@vsnl.net
 

Let’s get the nuggets of wisdom out of the way. India and China have been indifferent neighbors in history with the high Himalayas intervening between them. The Indic and Sinic cultures are competitive, as clearly visible in Southeast Asia. Both countries offer competing models of development to achieve economic growth and social justice, distinguishing between the democratic and totalitarian paths. And, finally, history informs us hat large civilizational nations cannot be cordial neighbors, a modicum of normality is all that is possible in their relationship.

Whether this modicum of normality has been reached lies in the eyes of the beholder. For the proposition it is argued that India-China trade has burgeoned from $ 2 bn. in 2000 to an expected $ 60 bn. in 2010, exceeding the trade between India and the United States. Detractors argue that India-China trade is heavily weighted in China’s favor, in that its exports cover a wide range of industrial products while India’s exports largely comprise iron ore, establishing a colonial pattern of trade. China is taking steps to widen its services sector where India is presently advantaged by rapidly expanding its general and technical education facilities, while India is yet to reform and expand its elitist higher educational institutions.  Furthermore, China has taken recourse to the advantages of scale in industrial production, while India seeks to emphasize social costs, thereby ensuring sub-optimal   economic decision-making.

But it is their political-strategic interactions which reveal major disagreements, focusing on their contentious border dispute. It had triggered the Sino-Indian border conflict in 1962, leading to a long period of estrangement. Bilateral relations only revived after Rajiv Gandhi visited Beijing in 1988. Thereafter, two landmark border management agreements were negotiated in 1993 and 1996, and a joint mechanism was devised to discuss the border dispute through accredited representatives. Some 13 rounds of discussions have taken place to date, but without any noticeable results, leading pessimists to conclude that these meetings are quite pointless, while optimists claim they have ensured that national differences have not escalated to conflict. In truth, no resolution of the border problem is possible unless enabling political decisions are taken in New Delhi and Beijing to moderate their maximalist positions. 

The present tensions derive from a spate of belligerent statements by China that question India’s territoriality. China has aggressively begun asserting its claims to Arunachal Pradesh, and had refused a visa to an Indian official there, scheduled to visit China in an official delegation.  Very recently, China objected to the Indian Prime Minister visiting Arunachal Pradesh, and, more recently, has protested against the Dalai Lama’s program to visit the Buddhist monastery in Tawang.  China has also stopped stamping visas on the passports of Indian residents in Jammu and Kashmir wishing to visit China, but attaching the visas on separate forms to be detached on exit. Further, China has been indulging in “cartographic aggression’ by excluding Jammu and Kashmir but including Arunachal Pradesh in Chinese maps. India sees these several incidents as concerted assaults on its territorial integrity.

The question of moment is why China has chosen this juncture to heighten India-China tensions. Many hypotheses are possible. Like Beijing’s concerns with Indo-US relations, consolidated by their extraordinary nuclear deal. A popular impression in India is that China indulges in these dramatics periodically to keep India off-balance and distracted from its nation-building tasks. In my view, the Chinese angst is related to the Dalai Lama’s forthcoming visit to Tawang in November. He had visited Tawang earlier in 2003 as part of his ecclesiastical duties. Then, why is Beijing upset now?

Here one must recount the tangled history of Tawang. Both Neville Maxwell (India’s China War) and Maj. Gen. D.K. Palit (War in the High Himalayas) have agreed that Tawang had always been under Tibetan control. Tibetan dzongpens were the local administrators. They were evicted in 1938 by the British, but returned later after Lhasa lodged vigorous protests. In 1951 the dzongpens were again evicted as part of a general policy by independent India to push its borders northwards beyond Se La to secure a more defensible border along the McMahon Line. Lhasa had protested again, but was ignored by India. However, Tibet had been occupied by China in 1950. Curiously enough, the Chinese did not protest, and it is possible that this failure is now being rectified. Any statement by the Dalai Lama during his visit to Towang, even of a religious and non-political character, would invest greater legitimacy to India’s possession of Towang, which the Chinese will find irksome. These are surmises. But in the absence of any authoritative statements by both countries on this issue, the Dalai Lama’s visit to Towang has become a struggle in the shadows.

Meanwhile, the recent Manmohan Singh-Wen Jiabao meeting in Thailand occurred in a cordial atmosphere. Apparently Arunachal Pradesh and the Dalai Lama’s visit to Towang were not discussed; therefore, nothing was resolved.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Stability in 2015
Sri Lanka: Making a Case for Change
Connecting Sri Lanka: Train to Jaffna
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Burying the Past: A New Beginning for Pakistan and Afghanistan
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Bangladesh: Diplomatic Manoeuvres at the UNGA
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism’s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
IPCS Forecast: East Asia in 2015
China-North Korea: Reasons for Reconciliation
Abe-Jinping Summit Meet: A Thaw in China-Japan Relations?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?
The Future of SAARC is Now

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ‘Look East’ to ‘Act East’
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
India’s Northeast: Need for a New Anti-Terror Policy
India-China: Securitising Water
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015
India and Maritime Security: Do More
Indian Ocean and the IORA: Search and Rescue Operations

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
IPCS Forecast: Left-wing Extremism in 2015
Maoist Attack on the CRPF: Time for New Counter-strategies
Naxal Violence: Challenges to Jharkhand Polls

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
18th SAARC Summit: An Economic Agenda
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security
Obama’s New Strategy towards the Islamic State: Implications for India

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
IPCS Forecast: West Asia in 2015
Rise of the Islamic State: Implications for the Arab World
Islamic State: The Efficacy of Counter-strategies
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
The Af-Pak Entity: Seduction to Armageddon?
Maritime Combat Power in the Indo-Pacific
Of Lawrence, Sykes-Picot and al-Baghdadi
Voice from America
Amit Gupta
Obama’s Rapprochement with Cuba
China's Global Ambition: Need to Emulate Germany
Mid-Term Elections: So What If the US Swings Hard Right?


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 
Related Articles
Rana Divyank Chaudhary,
"Dialogue as Foreign Policy," 24 June 2013
Jayadeva Ranade,
"China, Tibet & Beijing's New Thinking," 24 June 2013
Rana Divyank Chaudhary,
"IPCS Discussion: China and its Internal Periphery," 8 March 2013
Shanta Maree Surendran,
"China, Gwadar and Sea Lanes of Communication: ‘Economic Offence’ or ‘Active Defence’?," 25 February 2013
Gunjan Singh,
"China’s Leadership Dilemma: Development or Environment?," 15 February 2012
Swaran Singh,
"China-India: Courting Closer Confidence," 8 February 2012
Teshu Singh,
"China and Thailand: Analyzing Xi Jinping’s Visit," 24 January 2012
Jayadeva Ranade,
"China-South Korea Presidential Summit: Fait Accompli?," 16 January 2012
Radhakrishna Rao,
"China in Outer Space: A Strategy for Global Supremacy?," 3 January 2012
Chok Tsering,
"China’s Presence in the Mekong," 31 December 2011

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus

Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar

Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Obama’s New Strategy towards the Islamic State: Implications for India

Modi’s Tryst with Abe

Thinking the Unthinkable: Promoting Nuclear Disarmament

The Enigmatic Case of Bowe Bergdahl

India-Pakistan Relations: Modi’s Options

India and No First Use: The Doctrinal Conundrum

The Hague Nuclear Security Summit: Evaluating Major Achievements

India and Nuclear Terrorism: Meeting the Threat

Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator

The Yasukini Controversy: Global Implications

Can India be Cunning?

Limits of Federalism

Ten Years of Ceasefire along the LoC: An Evaluation

Technological Change and Security: Implications for India

India and the Failed States Index

India, Sri Lanka and the IPKF Debacle: Remembering 29 July 1987

Why Berlin is not Prague-II

Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference 2013: Deterrence and Disarmament

Pakistan Elections 2013: Will things change?

India, Pakistan and the Nuclear Race: The Strategic Entanglement

India and Pakistan: The Kargil Redux

India and Pakistan: Political Fallouts and Larger Questions of the LoC Violations

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2015
 January  February  March  April  May  June
 2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007
 2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999
 1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1900, Tel: 91-11-4100-1901, Tel/Fax: 91-11-4100-1902

Email:
© Copyright 2015, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com