“Geography is the most fundamental factor in the foreign policy of states because it is the most permanent. Ministers come and ministers go, but mountain ranges stand unperturbed.” ~ Nicholas J. Spykman, Dutch-American Strategist of World War II EraSince India’s Independence, her relations with China, have fluctuated a whole range, from friendly to hostile. From truly ‘diplomatic’, they have have transitioned to those of ‘mistrust’ and ‘apathy’. While China, in in the past 20 years, has focussed on its ‘development’, ‘industrialisation’, and economic stability, this has also generated as a spin-off, a major impetus to her Armed Forces – The People’s Liberation Army.
China, therefore, started asserting itself, at a world stage, aspiring to transform from a ‘Regional Power’ to a ‘Global Power’. Conflicting interests of India and China in the maritime domain- resurgence of geography influenced politics. LITERATURE REVIEW The emergence of China and more recently, India, has reshaped relations and produced a broader area of economic integration in Asia. Even in southern Asia, where the strategic triangle of China, India, and Pakistan has resulted in flashpoints and suspicions, both India and China have kept their sights on increasing trade and economic growth as a security imperative for the long term (Alyssa Ayres, 2016). The modern relationship between India & China began in 1950 when India was one of the first countries to end formal ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and recognize the PRC as the legitimate government of China. China and India are the two most populous countries and the fastest growing economies in the world.
Growth in economic and diplomatic influence has increased the significance of their bilateral relationship. Currently, the ties between these two nuclear armed countries had deteriorated to an extent due to a military standoff in the North and East of India, but are now improved. (Lokesh Chandra. 2016)China and India, the two largest developing countries in the world, share a number of common interests especially in the field of domestic development, and economic reform. They are experiencing a period of rapid economic growth. However, both are also struggling to define their role in the world given their new profound influence on the global economy. Both promote the notion of a multi-polar world in which they may serve as bigger players alongside the United States.
(Bashir Ahmad Dar,2014)There are factors within and outside between China and India which still impacts their relations, for instance, border and Tibet issues are more prominent and recently, the water issue has also surfaced in the bilateral relations between China and India. These bilateral issues will not only effect on their present relations but have a negative impact on their future relations as well; it will also affect the process of their rise and the peace and stability in and outside the region. (Bhawan Pokharna (2009)China’s strategic interests in India follows from its desire to maintain a peaceful international environment create friendly relations with all the states and especially with neighbors, prevent any attempt towards the formation of anti-China blocs and finally develop new markets, investment opportunities and resources to stimulate its economic growth. It also wants to resolve its domestic problems in a coherent manner. To achieve all these objectives, it is necessary for China to have friendly relations with India, despite the inherited bilateral issues. On the other hand, India’s own focus on the internal development encourages it to cultivate positive relations with China. However, the attitude within India towards forging cordial relations with China remains mixed to some extent due to the historical legacy of China-India relations.
(Shaukat Ahmad, 2014) INDIA’S CURRENT GEOPOLITICAL RELATIONS WITH CHINA ORIGIN & NATURE China–India relations, also called Sino-Indian relations or Indo-China relations, refers to the bilateral relationship between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of India. Although the relationship has been friendly, there are some border disputes and a very high economic competition between the two countries. Cultural and economic relations between China and India date back to ancient times. The Silk Road not only served as a major trade route between India and China, but is also credited for facilitating the spread of Buddhism from India to East Asia. During the 19th century, China’s growing opium trade with the East India Company triggered the First and Second Opium Wars. During World War II, India and China both played a crucial role in halting the progress of Imperial Japan.
ECONOMIC MELTDOWNThe Indian economy too, has been growing steadily, with opening up of our economy, ever since 1991, by virtue of the New Economic Policy of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation. Cautious and pragmatic approach ensured that India sailed through the economic downturn with relative ‘ease’. The stormy chaos that resulted in the wake of the economic downturn, leading to down-sizing and right-sizing the issuance of pink slips, the slashing of expenses and manpower, in a large number of European Nations, USA, Latin America and Asia, actually did not impact Indian dreams. The world’s view on India’s position also altered, and we started emerging as both, a stable economy and lately, a stable democracy. COMPETING ECONOMY AND DEFENCE FORCES The destabilising forces, the terrorism, maoist-related internal security and instability and fundamentalism affects countries like India, however, the world finds India, a stable and secure place to invest. The comparison between India and China, threw both into a state of competition and competitiveness.
The growing strength of the Indian Armed Forces, its economic stability, the strong political signalling, and emergence of Strategic Partnerships with USA, the European Union, Israel, ASEAN, BRICS and IOR countries, became significant rallying points and new reference points in ‘Emerging India’. Soon, the world started to believe that India and China are vying for the same ‘Strategic Space’, both regionally and globally. The competition transcends from Geographic to Military, to Trade and Economy, to Strategic Partnerships. A growth of mistrust has followed ever since, with both the nations remaining skeptical of each other. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND : REGION & CULTURE Culturally, both the nations, China and India are well-endowed. The travelogues of the Chinese Scholar Xuanzang, travelling to Indian University, at Takshila, are well-documented.
The Buddhist Centres at Gaya an Sanchi, tell a story of friendship and rich cultural exchanges.The traditional trade routes between India and China, at multiple points across the mighty Himalayas, have endured till this day. Religious freedom in India and the knowledge of science and technology continued to pull travellers from across the world.
INDO-CHINA MILITARY CONFRONTATION The year 1962 saw India and China engaged in a war in the North (Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir) and the East (Sikkim and Arunachal). The unresolved boundary issue led to distrust and mutual apprehension of aggression, and the Armed Forces of China inserted into the Indian Territory. The poorly equipped Indian soldiers were actually pitted against the odds, but fought very gallantly. The end of the Sino-Indian war of 1962, paved the way for Modernisation of the Defence Sector of India.
CURRENT GEOPOLITICAL RELATIONS Geographical Juxtaposition : The great Himalayan range of mountains, serve as a natural barrier and boundary between China and India. At the Northern tip is a tai-junction of boundaries between India, China and Pakistan. Since India’s independence, the boundary issue between the two countries, over a vast length of over 3000 kms, has remained unresolved. The irritants in the geographical bonhomie are : Unresolved LAC and AGPL : Line of Actual Control and Actual round Position Line, though solved in the area of Sikkim, have remained unresolved in major Indian portion. Pakistan angle and Aksai Chin : In the areas where border issues with Pakistan were under negotiation, Pakistan illegally acceded more than 10,000 square kilometres of area in Aksai Chin, to China. Karakoram Highway : (Also known as the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway) China is building a 1300 kms long highway from Hasan Abdal in Punjab province of Pakistan, to the Khunjerab Pass in Gilgit-Baltistan where it crosses into Xinjiang region of China . It can lead to assessing of Military troops, can threaten India by a collaborative and collusive Pakistan and China. China – Pakistan Economic Corridor : With a view to reduce the distances (sea-route) and open an alternate route (land route), China is building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor from Xinjiang Uygur (autonomous region) to Gwadar port, in Pakistan, opening into the Arabian Sea.
Overtly, it is a trade corridor, but tomorrow, is an evolving Security situation, it can be utilised to enhance military presence, to the perils of India. This is under the One Belt One Road initiative of China. Development of Gwadar Port : China has aided and developed the Gwadar port, in Pakistan, for its own advantage, to find alternate markets, routes and the import of oil from the middle-east, by the land route.
Development of Hambantota Port : As a part of the strategic encirclement and containment of India, China has also developed the Hambantota portion Sri Lanka, which can also be used for enhancing the military presence in the Indian Ocean, particularly for the Pakistani Navy to access, under its String of Pearls strategy. Wooing Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh : China has started investments in these countries, as a part of its policy of String of Pearls, to encircle India. Similar efforts are being made in African countries also. Arunachal and Ladakh stand-offs : Chinese incusion in Demchok, in 2016 and Doklam in 2017, led to near political crisis.
The military situation was extremely volatile and was perceived as a flash-point for military engagement. China considers entire Arunachal, as her own territory and claims it, politically. POLITICAL REALITIES : INDIA AND CHINA The Indo-China political relations have undertones, reflections of competition, distrust, one-upmanship ad forging of antagonising strategic partnerships. China is colluding with Pakistan, militarily, to place India at a disadvantage.
India, on the other hand, is forging ahead with good relations with all its other neighbours. Indo-US Strategic Partnership : China is wary of India’s growing relations with USA, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and the European Union. China views these to be political propagandas against it. South-China and East-China Sea : China’s military presence in these regions, to the utter discomfort of all the claimants of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of their respective countries, is perceived as military aggression by China, to pursue her own economic gains.
GLOBAL MARKETS FOR CHINESE GOODS : Lately, the Chinese goods, for which it is constantly looking to expand its markets, are being shunned by many., including India, due to over-exertion and extremism by China. The shrinking markets are being attributed by China, to an alliance of sorts by other countries, including India. India trade points Nathula in Sikkim and a few others are witnessing very limited trade, in real terms. GROWING MILITARY PRESENCE : China’s Peoples Liberation Army, Navy and Air Force are being modernised, to be able to assert and dictate its terms.The are gearing up, not only for its security, but for expansionist activities the neighbourhood. Their military alliances with Pakistan, and assisting in military modernisation is becoming a threat to India.
CONCLUSION & RECOMMENDATIONS India and China are growing through a rough patch in their political and diplomatic relationships. The Chinese incursions in Jammu & Kashmir (Ladakh) and Arunachal Pradesh, have dealt a further blow the deteriorating geo-political relations. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, passing through the Aksai Chin area, which belongs to India, is leading to another major irritant in the relationship.
Chinese military assistance to India’s traditional arch-rival, pakistan, is a sore point, that is impacting the normalisation of relations between them. More importantly, India’s growing strength and inspiring diplomacy to build good relations with all major players at the world stage, is making China, skeptic about India’s role and ambitions. This is hence a stumbling block, in coming around, to better Geo-political relations. Major diplomatic initiative is required by both the sides, to tread a path of collaborative diplomatic and geo-politically converting ties, in the Sino-Indian dynamics. REFERENCES