India China Relations | UPSC International Relations Notes

In this lesson we will learn about India China relations. China is India’s biggest neighbour and is an emerging superpower in the world. India China relations become very critical for regional peace and development.

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We shall begin learning about Indo-China Relations with the historical background.

History of India China Relations

Phase of Friendship

  • When India became independent, it established diplomatic relations with China which was under Kuomintang government (1948).
  • In 1949 Chinese communist party CCP drove Kuomintang out and took over China.
  • India was the first non-communist country to recognise communist China.
  • Nehru made many visits to China between 1954 to 57 which led to close relations. He gave the slogan of ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai’.
  • In 1954 ‘India China Agreement on Trade and Intercourse‘ was signed. The two countries decided to engage based on Nehru’s Panchsheel policy.
  • China started its aggressive policy by invasion and annexation of Tibet in 1950. India recognised suzerainty of China over Tibet but insisted upon autonomy of Tibet. China dismissed India’s concerns claiming that Tibet was its internal affair.

Phase of Confrontation between India and China

  • India detected China’s road construction deep in the Ladakh territory and protested. In January 1959, Zhou Enlai informed India that they do not recognise the McMahon line which was forced upon them by the British.
  • In March 1959, thousands of Tibetans along with the Dalai Lama fled to Himachal Pradesh. China disapproved India’s offer of shelter to Dalai Lama.
  • In retaliation China proclaimed dispute over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh claiming them to be Chinese territory. They said that they will give up cliam on North-East if the Aksai Chin is given to them.
  • In 1962 China attacked underprepared Indian Army and entered deep into Ladakh and Northeast India. However, they unilaterally announced ceasefire and retreated 20 km from their claimed Line of Control. They captured Aksai Chin.

Phase of Cold Relations and Distrust

  • After the shock of 1962 India China relations deteriorated. China and Pakistan came closer to each other, which further affected Indo-Sina relations.
  • In 1967, two battles were fought between India and China in Sikkim: ‘Nathu La incident’ and ‘Chola incident’.
  • In 1987 India gave statehood to Arunachal Pradesh which further irritated China.

Current Phase of Indo-China Relations

  • The 1988 Rajiv Gandhi visit re-ignited the warmth in the relationship. A Joint Working Group was set up to discuss outstanding issues and disputes. A Hotline was also set-up between India and China.
  • Since then, not a single shot has been fired at the Indo-China border.
  • Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) is organized every year since 1993.
  • In 1998 when India conducted Nuclear Test, China opposed it and dismissed India’s rationale that it was done to oppose ‘Chinese Threat’.
  • In 2003, China officially recognized India’s sovereignty over Sikkim.
  • Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (2013)
    It was signed in 2013. The objective of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) was to avoid military conflict and tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The main features of BDCA were:
    • Exchange of Information, including about military capabilities, exercises, aircrafts, demolition operations etc.
    • Periodic meetings between regional military officers of China and India.
    • Periodic meetings between the representatives of ministries of defence of India and China.
    • No taiking of each other’s patrolling team.
    • If a face-off at the LAC arises, both should practice maximum self-restraint, refrain from any provocative actions, not use force or threaten to use force against the other side, treat each other with courtesy and prevent exchange of fire or armed conflict.

Issues in India-China Relations

Indo-China Border Disputes

Administration Control of Kashmir: Askai Chin, Shaksgam Valley, Siachen and PoK
Administrative Control of Kashmir: Askai Chin, Shaksgam Valley, Siachen and PoK
  • Western Sector
    China claims Aksai Chin to be part of its territory. Since 1962 War, it has the control over the territory. Further, to aid China in helping road contruction directly through PoK, Pakistan gifted them Shaksgam Valley, which is Indian territory.
  • Sikkim Sector
    Although China recognozed Sikkim as Indian territory, it claims border disputes. The Doklam issue regarding Chumbi Valley that concerns with Bhutan, also has some implication on Sikkim.
  • Eastern Sector
    China claims Arunachal Pradesh to be part of Southern Tibet and hence a Chinese territory. It was basically a ploy to bargain the Aksai Chin area in exchange of North-East.

Strategic Issues

India’s Sabang Base in Indonesia is close to the Strait of Malacca

China is an aggressor. It has border disputes with almost all its neighbours. As a rising economic and military power, China is a threat to regional peace and security. In such a secenario India, Japan and USA will have to counter China’s aggression.

India’s closeness to USA and Japan naturally displeases China. China knows very well that if Malacca Strait is chocked, they will suffer economic disaster. India has a base called Sabang in Indonesia near Malacca Strait. This is also the reason why China is pursuing One Belt One Road (OBOR) project. They want alternate trade routes.

India China Water Disputes

China is upper riparian and India is lower riparian. Important rivers like Brahmaputra, Sutlej and Indus enter India from China. China builds dams over these rivers without consultation with India. It has grave consequences over water security and ecology of India.

India-China Trade Relations

India-China bilateral trade volume was $92.7 billion in 2019. India’s import from China was worth $74.7 billion while India’s export to China was worth $18 billion. Thus India has a huge trade deficit of $56.7 billion. The problem is that India exports mostly raw materials like iron ore etc to China and imports finished goods from them.

China-Pak Axis

China and Pakistan came closer to each other after 1962 Indo-China war. China has supplied nuclear technology to Pakistan and has defended Pak based terrorists at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Pakistan has entered into $65 billion worth CPEC Corridor pact with China. This is basically a Chinese Debt Trap for Pakistan. It is eventually going to make Pakistan an economic colony of China, which is dangerous for India’s security too.

Doklam Issue

In 2017, China as part of its predatorysalami-slicing’ tactics, entered Doklam region into Bhutanese territory and started building roads. India being Bhutan’s ally, sent armed troops with bulldozers to demolish the construction and push them back. Finally, both the countries pulled out of the region to end the stand-off. Doklam is important for India’s security too as it is close to the ‘chicken neck corridor’.

So this was the lesson on Indo-China Relations. If you read any current affairs regarding India and China, after reading this lesson, it will be more clear. In the next lesson for UPSC International Relations, we will study India-Pakistan Relations.

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