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Today you will read : India – China Relations
India and China are the two most populous countries of the world. Both have maintained consistently an impressive economic growth since they liberalized their economies. China started economic liberalization in 1978, whereas India followed liberal economic policies since 1991.
India gained independence in 1947, while China emerged as a new nation after the communist revolution in 1949. While India moved on the path of democracy and mixed economy and followed a policy of non-aligned movement in international affairs, China adopted communist economy and an authoritarian political system.
In 1950’s India supported Chinese membership of United Nations in place of Taiwan and both raised the slogan of ‘Hindi Chini Bhai-Bhai’ under the Panchsheel agreement signed in 1954. The five principles of Panchsheel- respect for each others, sovereignty and territorial integriry, non-aggression, non interference in the internal affairs of each other equality and mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence.
However in late 1950’s difference arose between the two countries over the status of Tibet. As a large number of Tibetan refugees came to India and Tibetan exile government was formed in India, China considered this as an unfriendly act and launched a full scale war against India in 1962.
China captured 36000 sq mile territory in Aksai chin area of Jammu and Kashmir which she has not vacated so far. China is also claiming another 90,000 sq km. Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh. It did not recognize McMohan line as the valid boundary between the two countries.
The boundary question has emerged s a most complex issue between the two countries inspite of various rounds of negotiations in two phases this problem remains unresolved and a bone of contention between the two. Though both countries have agreed to an apolitical framework to solve this problem, yet China appears to have developed cold feet towards this problem as was visible during the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December 2010.
What is more surprising is that China has objected to the visit of Indian prime Minister to Arunachal Pradesh as she considers it to be a disputed territory. It is a normal practice in China that Arunachal Pradesh is shown as Chinese territory in the Chinese maps.
It is true that Indo-china trade has improved in recent years as China has emerged as the largest trading partners of India. Presently the trade volume between the two countries has reached to the tune of USD 60 billion but India suffers a trade deficit of USD 20 billion with China, the cheap Chinese electronic goods have flooded Indian markets, which have become a cause of concern for India. This may prove detrimental to Indian industry and employment in India in the long run. India has been consistently raising the issue of trade deficit with China.
Like bilateral engagement the regional engagement between the two in South Asia, South East Asia and Africa is far from satisfactory. While Pakistan and China have developed strategic partnership, the latter is providing huge technological and military assistance to Pakistan which raises eyebrows in India. The Pakistani nuclear programme and missile development cannot succeed without Chinese technological assistance.
Pakistan provided China with much needed access from POK to Gwader port in India Ocean. China is developing Pakistan’s Gwader port and has gained direct access to Gulf of Aden. Similarly, China has gained access to Hambankota sea port in Sri Lanka and is taking interest in the development and use of Chittagong port in Bangladesh.
China has close military relations with the military rulers of Myanmar and has an eye on its natural resources. In order to counter balance Chinese influence in Myanmar, India has also changed her policy and actively engaging with Myanmar’s military junta.
Chinese influence in Nepal has grown up in recent years with the rise of Maoists in Nepal. Maiost leader, Pushp Kamal Dahal, is highly critical of India and has shown keen interest in developing close relations with China. Thus, in entire South Asia, China has followed actively the policy of encirclement of India, which has serious strategic and security implication for India.
Another regional area of strategic competition between the two is Africa. Though, India has enjoyed close relations with the African countries during the Cold War, China has gained ample influence in the region in last 20 years or so. Besides capturing African markets, Chinese investment and technological support in Africa has risen considerably in recent years.
The Red Dragon has also taken steps to exploit natural resources (oil) from Africa. Though, China appears to have gained edge economically viz-a-viz India in Africa. India still enjoys soft power advantage in the form of goodwill in Africa.
In brief, India and China are engaged in strategic competition in South Asia, South-East Asia and Africa, but the ongoing Chinese policies in South Asia may take the form of rivalry as it involves deeper security and strategic interests of India.
In the past twenty years or so, China has emerged as a manufacturing hub of the global economy, whereas India has achieved significant global place in information technology and service sector. Both have assumed greater role in the global affairs and management of global economy.
Both are the leading members of the G-20 grouping, which is emerging as a global economic management group and is poised to replace rich nation club- G-8. As members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa) both are predicted to achieve status of leading global economies by the year 2050, surpassing the US and European Union.
The combined population of the two countries is one-third of the global population. Goldman Saachs, which gave the idea of BRICS, predicts that both China and India are likely to emerge as the two largest consumers of energy resources.
China is a permanent member of the Security Council while India is a potential claimant of permanent membership in near future. Both have demonstrated to play a crucial role in the global climate change negotiations as well as well as international trade negotiations. Infact, the entire debate on the notion of ‘Rise of Asia’ or Asian century revolves around the rise of India and China in global affairs.
While China has been a long player in South East Asia as a member of ASEAN + three (China, Japan, and South Korea), India has also gained a foothold in South East in last decade under her ‘Look East Policy.’ Many observers say that India should avail the economic opportunity offered by her for India’s economic benefit, while at the same remaining watchful about her security concern.
It should be noted that inspite of much hype, both India and China are not yet the global powers. At the most they are emerging global players as both are mainly preoccupied with the internal and regional issues. Thus, their global world view is greatly influenced by immediate problems at hand.
The most significant strategic complication arises with the deepening strategic partnership between the US and India. The peaceful nuclear cooperation deal between India and the US was not appreciated by China as it ended the global nuclear isolation of India, without signing the NPT. Also the US a resident power in South East Asia is encouraging the greater role for India in East Asia.
The strategic partnership between India and China is viewed by China as a balancing act against her economic and military rise. Thus, the US has emerged as a crucial factor in Indo- China strategic engagement.
In the long run the global strategic equations are not likely to favour China, although it is a rising economic power and is making developments in infrastructure, sports, technology, manpower, military etc. The US, western countries and countries of the South East Asia may keep an arm length distance with China due to her authoritarian political system, lack of democracy, human rights and secrecy enveloped in its military affairs. Thus, inspite of her impressive economic growth China is not in the good books at the regional and global level, but India is better placed in this respect.
To conclude, the nature of bilateral and regional issues between India and China leads to the result that both countries are not likely to move in a synergic and cooperative manner. Their engagement may be either competitive or conflicting or a mixture of both in the near future.
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