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“INDIA-CHINA” Relation And Related Issues(GS-2 Exam Synopsis)2020-21

Topics from the syllabus:

India and China relations UPSC IAS 2021-22 Examination. Bilateral, Regional & Global Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests.

What to cover/ Key Words in the topic

Historical aspects of India China relations

Significance of China for India

Major aspects of bilateral relations-Facts related to economic relations/trade, etc.

Border issues between India and China

Belt and Road Initiative- issues and prospects

Major tension areas and areas of Cooperation

Areas of strategic cooperation

Challenges

Best way forward

Additionally, aspirants can follow other aspects like

  • Locating China in India-Pakistan, India-Nepal and Indo-US relations relations
  • India and China in the Asian Century
  • India and China in the Indo-pacific region (Disputes, cooperation, challenges)
  1. China factor in India’s Act East east and Act-west policy. etc.
  2. Role of China in Post-COVID world- Implications for India.

INTRODUCTION

No other relationship of India has as many layers as our relations with China. China and India are both ancient civilizations and major developing countries. As the only two major developing countries and important representatives of emerging economies, China-India relations assume global and strategic significance. Ironically, both form the part of the ‘Asian Century’ and ‘Indo-pacific’ geopolitical theme.

SIGNIFICANCE OF CHINA

  • Pakistan-China bond often termed an “all-weather friendship”, is deeper than ever before, reinforced by $46-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It is said, India’s rivalry with Pakistan is never bilateral.
  • China is involved closely in other subcontinental developments, such as the Afghanistan-Taliban talks, that will have a bearing on India-Pakistan ties. 
  • The biggest source of tensions between India and China, the border issue in Jammu and Kashmir, is geographically linked with Pakistan.
  • On the subject of terrorism, it is China that has had a higher rate of success in controlling the levers in Pakistan that run terror groups than most other countries.
  • India’s largest trading partner is China with which we have large trade deficit.

BILATERAL RELATIONS

    • Both countries are members of China-Russia-India Trilateral, BRICS, SCO, and G20, and share common interests in promoting globalization and opposing trade protectionism. 
    • Government departments, political parties, legislatures and military of the two countries have actively engaged in high-level exchanges and shared governance experience. 
    • Recently the two sides held the 6th Strategic Economic Dialogue and the 9th Financial Dialogue and reached new consensus on development strategies.
    • Since the beginning of the 21st century, trade between China and India has grown from less than $3 billion to nearly $100 billion, an increase of about 32 times
    • More than 1,000 Chinese companies have increased their investment in industrial parks, e-commerce and other areas in India, with a total investment of $8 billion and 2,00,000 local jobs created. 
    • Chinese mobile phone brands have been well-established in the Indian market. 
    • Indian companies are also actively expanding the Chinese market, with a cumulative investment of nearly $1 billion in China. 
    • The two countries have established 14 pairs of sister cities and provinces, with two-way personnel exchanges exceeding one million.
    • Informal summits have their use as trust-building exercises. The two countries convened their first Informal Summit in central China’s Wuhan in April 2018. The Wuhan Informal Summit pointed out the direction for the development of bilateral relations. 
  • Recently both leaders met in the ancient coastal town of Mamallapuram for a second Informal Summit.

BORDER DISPUTE

  • India and China share a 3,488 km long boundary. Unfortunately, the entire boundary is disputed. The line, which delineates the boundary between the two countries, is popularly called the McMahon Line, after its author Sir Henry McMahon.
  • In 1913, the British-India government had called a tripartite conference, in which the boundary between India and Tibet was formalized after a discussion between the Indian and the Tibetans. A Convention was adopted, which resulted in the delimitation of the Indo-Tibetan boundary. This boundary is, however, disputed by China which terms it as illegal.
  • In 1957, China occupied Aksai Chin and built a road through it. This episode was followed by intermittent clashes along the border, which finally culminated in the border war of 1962. The boundary, which came into existence after the war, came to be known as Line of Actual Control (LAC). It is a military held line.

India-China

India China relations UPSC

What is the issue?  

  • Both India and China claim the regions of Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh. The military clashes are occurring as the countries have not come to a conclusion in demarcating the boundary. 
  • India’s stand

  • India demands for two lines in the border. A line that the Chinese do not cross and another line that India will not cross. 
  • China’s stand

  • China demands for a comprehensive code of conduct for the forces of both countries. India is reluctant to accept the code of conduct as the proposal limits the modernization of Indian military. It will also enable China to preserve to military advantage of Tibet.

    Recent border skirmishes

    • India claims that the LAC is 3,488 km long, China believes it to be around 2,000 km long.
    • The two armies try and dominate by patrol to the areas up to their respective perceptions of the LAC. This often brings them into conflict.
    • The LAC mostly passes on the land, but Pangong Tso is a unique case where the LAC passes through the water as well.

    Where is Pangong Tso lake?

    • Pangong Tso is a long narrow, deep, endorheic (landlocked) lake.It is situated at a height of more than 14,000 ft in the Ladakh Himalayas.
    • The brackish water lake freezes over in winter, and becomes ideal for ice skating and polo.
      • India-China

        India China relations UPSC

        Why is there a dispute in Pangong Tso?

        • The points in the water at which the Indian claim ends and the Chinese claim begins are not agreed upon mutually.
        • Most of the clashes between the two armies occur in the disputed portion of the lake.
        • As things stand, 45 km-long western portion of the lake is under Indian control, while the rest is under China’s control.
        • Eastern Ladakh forms the western sector, to the east of the Karakoram and Ladakh Ranges.
        • It runs from the Karakoram Pass in the north to Chumur in the south, almost bordering Himachal Pradesh.
        • Pangong Tso lies closer to the center of this 826 km long disputed border in eastern Ladakh.

        What is the importance of the lake?

        • Pangong Tso Lake has major tactical significance as it lies in the path of the Chushul approach.This approach is one of the main approaches that China can use for an offensive into Indian-held territory.
        • Indian assessments show that a major Chinese offensive if it comes, will flow across both the north and south of the lake.

        What are the “Fingers” in the lake?

        • The barren mountains on the lake’s northern bank, called the Chang Chenmo, just forward in major spurs, which the Army calls “fingers”.
        • Claims – India claims that the LAC is coterminous with Finger 8, but it physically controls area only up to Finger 4.
        • Chinese border posts are at Finger 8, while it believes that the LAC passes through Finger 2.
        • Six years ago, the Chinese had attempted a permanent construction at Finger 4, which was demolished after Indians strongly objected to it.
        • Chinese use light vehicles on the road to patrol up to Finger 2, which has a turning point for their vehicles.
        • If they are stopped by an Indian patrol in between, asking them to return, it leads to confusion, as the vehicles can’t turn back.
        • Recent tensions – The Indian side patrols on foot, and before the recent tensions, could go up to Finger 8.
        • The fracas between Indian and Chinese soldiers in May, 2020 happened at Finger 5, which led to “disengagement” between the two sides.
        • The Chinese have now stopped the Indian soldiers moving beyond Finger 2. This is an eyeball-to-eyeball situation that is still developing.

                                        

        BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE

        China, unveiled CPEC, making the road through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Pakistan an integral part of its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) plan. OBOR initiative is the centerpiece of China’s foreign policy and domestic economic strategy. China’s plan is to construct roads, railways, ports, and other infra across Asia and beyond to bind its economy more tightly to the rest of the world. It links 3 continents – Asia, Africa, and Europe. 34 countries have already signed agreements with China. 

        Indian response:

  • It is being seen as both a threat and an opportunity. To be firm while responding to threat and making use of opportunity will depend on strategic thinking India is able to bring to table. India wants a consultative process for OBOR roadmap rather than unilateral decision. Pro’s: facilitates Make in India and Digital India initiatives, as it provides global transport and internet connectivity. Con’s: CPEC passes through POK. Challenges Indian sovereignty. However at same time, India is founding member of AIIB which is funding OBOR. 
    Way forward:
    • There is a widening gulf between the two nations on certain core issues like:
    • Ongoing border/territorial disputes (e.g. Pangong Tso Lake issue 2019, Doklam stand-off 2017, Asaphila issue of Arunachal Pradesh)
    • Chinese activism on Kashmir after abrogation of certain provisions of Article 370
    • Cross-border terrorism
    • China’s stand on India’s entry to Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), etc.
    • Concerns with India: China perceives itself as a leading power ruling the unipolar world by 2050. It is therefore not comfortable with the rise of India in the region as the potential competitive power.
    • China follows maximalist expectations approach towards India in which it demands much from the Indian side as can be seen from the ortedly conveyed its displeasure over India’s military exercises in Arunachal Pradesh.
    • In the recent 3rd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), China tried to trick on India in order to get access to the Indian markets.
    • China also has concerns about India’s role (being a member of Quad) in the Indian Ocean region.
    • Chinese economy is suffering due to the ongoing US-China trade war and later face issued as global trade hasalomost every region and nation.
    • Also, the domestic issues like Hongkong protests, issue of atrocities against Uighur muslims in Xinjiang province is affecting China.
    • China is worried with concerns related to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPbout CPEC. On the bright side, a more economically stable Pak maybe good for India. India can adopt a wise approach and join it like it joined AIIB and try it as an alternative provided its security interests are not compromised. 
      OBOR consists of:

      Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) 

      China-led initiative will connect Asia with Europe along a land corridor interlinked by rail, roads, industrial parks and smart cities. 

      China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project 

      • The massive project of road, rail, energy schemes, pipelines and investment parks, passing through PoK. 
      • The corridor would transform Pakistan into a regional hub and give China a shorter and cheaper route for trade with much of Asia, West Asia and Africa and access to the Indian Ocean.
      • Maritime Silk Road: It aims to connect countries in the Indian Ocean via a link of ports and harbors. US’s theory of ‘String of Pearls’ is devised to counter Chinese actions in the Indian Ocean region.

      AREAS OF CONVERGENCE

      • India and China are supporting multi-polar world order diminishing US hegemony as one polar world. This scenario is though evolving and taking different dimensions and will see dynamism in the post COVID world order.
      • India and China are members of BRICS, a regional grouping to support developing countries by forming the New Development Bank (NDB).
      • Both countries have a similar stand on trade disputes and WTO negotiations.
      • India’s induction into Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Eurasian regional group of political, economic and security alliance.
      • India is also a member of China-backed AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) that provides loans for building infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region.

      PRESENT SINO-INDIAN TIES

      • The two emerging and enduring powers representing two modes of civilization signify a complex and dynamic relationship in world politics.
      • In the recent past, relations between India and China have broadened which can be exemplified by enhanced people-to-people cultural exchanges, improved commerce & economic ties inter-alia.
      • At the official level, high-level exchanges have become regular in the form of recently organized two informal summits- Wuhan Summit (2018) & Chennai Connect (2019), and frequent meetings on the bilateral/ multilateral fora.
      • The soft diplomacy practiced in the form of increased tourism (granting of multiple-entry visa for 5 years by India to Chinese travellers), frequent visits by armed forces & naval activities, 10 pillar agreement (2018), finalizing of 70 events in the second informal summit, etc. have given a cushioning effect- marking the progress in the relations.
      • Recently, India-China relations have seen hightened tensions due to border face-off (May 2020). The global wave of anti-China sentiments in the wake of COVID-19 are most effective in India. Boycott China movement is adversely affecting people to people relations and sense of mutual cooperation. It is also anticipated that many global firm may withdraw from China and the situation created due to the Pandemic will adversely affect the global supply chains. This will lay a dynamic impact on Sino-India ties and the event will shape the post-pandemics India-China relations.

        AREAS OF CONCERN/ CHALLENGES

        • There is a widening gulf between the two nations on certain core issues like:
        • Ongoing border/territorial disputes (e.g. Pangong Tso Lake issue 2019, Doklam stand-off 2017, Asaphila issue of Arunachal Pradesh)
        • Chinese activism on Kashmir after the abrogation of certain provisions of Article 370
        • Cross-border terrorism
        • China’s stand on India’s entry to Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), etc.
        • Concerns with India: China perceives itself as a leading power ruling the unipolar world by 2050. It is therefore not comfortable with the rise of India in the region as the potential competitive power.
        • China follows a maximalist expectations approach towards India in which it demands much from the Indian side as can be seen from ‘Hindi-Chini bhai bhai’ phase in the 1950s to the stable periphery demand, or demand to join Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, China does not reciprocate the same by addressing India’s concerns.
        • China’s Stance regarding Pakistan: For decades, China has used Pakistan as a wedge against India in order to confine India to the South Asia region and prevent India’s rise as a global competitor. This can be substantiated by China’s support to Pakistan on cross-border terrorism, resisting to designate certain terrorists globally, etc.
        • Doklam and the disputed border between the two countries remains an issue of concern.
        • Tibet and Kashmir continue to comlicate the bilateral relation. These re-emerged even in times of the Pandemic
        • Trade deficit between both continues to balloon and India is on the losing side. India could not sign RCEP and this was one of the main reasons behind it.
        • Even as the political situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, China and Pakistan, remains more intent that India has no role to play there. 
        • India has protested comments by Chinese officials on the government’s move to amend Article 370.
        • China reportedly conveyed its displeasure over India’s military exercises in Arunachal Pradesh.
        • In the recent 3rd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), China tried to trick on India in order to get access to the Indian markets.
        • China also has concerns about India’s role (being a member of Quad) in the Indian Ocean region.
        • Chinese economy is suffering due to the ongoing US-China trade war and later face issued as global trade has halted due to COVID-19 and disrupted supply chains. This will adversely affect China as China has good trade relations with alomost every region and nation.
        • Also, the domestic issues like Hongkong protests, issue of atrocities against Uighur muslims in Xinjiang province is affecting China.
        • China is worried with concerns related to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) due to rising insurgency in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region.

         

        SOUTH CHINA SEA ISSUE

        • Experts have claimed that China is driven through its lone wolf diplomacy and wants to reign against all its opponents. It’s actions with respect to SCS are termed as “assertive” and “Clandestine”.  
        • Impending threat of survival CPC may play the nationalist card – through aggression, for example, to seize claimed or disputed territory in its neighbourhood. 
        • China in the recent years has occupied islands in the SCS which are now disputed by countries like Vietnam, Brunie, Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia. They are- Scarborough Shoal, Spartley, etc. 
        • Chinese assertiveness is leading to a grand alliance of littoral balancers led by the United States forming, and including Japan, the Philippines, Australia, Vietnam and India. 
        • India is hesitant to directly join any alliance and hence getting into bilateral partnerships with US.

      India-China

      WAY FORWARD

      • Strong and stable relationship between India and China are critical for global peace and progress. Asia of rivalry will hold us back, Asia of Cooperation will shape this century.
      • Strategic: There is a need for defining, demarcating and delineating the borders so as to remove fear from the minds of people residing in the vicinity and strengthen the ties.
      • On the economic front, China has a trade surplus of around $750 billion (in the last 10 years) with India, which it needs to bring down. The service sector can play a major role in reducing the trade deficit.
      • China must create a level playing field by allowing Indian services such as in pharmaceuticals and software packages in its market. Also, in the RCEP, equitable distribution and differences between the two nations needs to be bridged.
      • Both countries can effectively use their soft power (in the form of tourism) to further integrate their economies.
      • Tourism: More Indian nationals visit to China as compared to the Chinese tourists coming to India. This cultural cross-connect must be increased so as to build up the co-constituencies and enhance businesses that can consequently lead to resolving of conflicts at the national level.
      • Promotion of tourism through education, spiritual visits especially on the Buddhist circuit, etc. must be promoted.
      • The problems between India and China are difficult to be resolved in the short run but by managing the relationship by minimizing the existing strategic gap, narrowing the divergences and maintaining the status quo, it can be improved over time. For this purpose, increased engagement with China at every level from the government to people, academia, business, etc. has to be targeted.

      INDIA AND CHINA IN ASIAN CENTURY

      Why China in the 21st century:

      • China is now the second largest economy and has foreign exchange reserves of over $3 trillion. 
      • From 1998 to 2008, middle-class income grew only 4% in the U.S. and 70% in China. Despite the trade headwinds and moderation of growth, the shift to a consumption-led economy is a success, and in 2018 China’s retail e-commerce exceeded that of the next 10 countries.
      • Construction accelerated from 2000. In three years China added cement capacity equal to what the U.S. added in a hundred years. 
      • Electricity consumption, car ownership and food waste remain one-tenth that of the U.S.
      • The Chinese have become global technology leaders intelligently, not just stealthily. Its high-speed trains travel at 300 km/ hour. 
      • China is exporting nuclear power plants. Huawei is the global leader in 5G technology, and the cheapest. China’s national goal of global leadership in Artificial Intelligence and quantum computing is serious enough to cause a rift with the U.S.

      Meaning and Perspective

      A rise of China in 21st century along with the growth anchored by India will collectively lead to rise of Asia. The two big powers of the continent maintain multi-dimensional relationships, assist smaller powers in their rejuvenation and play significant roles not only in integrating economies but generating shared perceptions on security. Late Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee emphasized about a decade and a half ago: “The 21st century will become the Century of Asia if China and India can build a stable and lasting relationship.” Ashok Kantha is of the view that “it is debatable if the world could really enter an Asian age or an Asian century without the joint efforts of China and India, the two countries with the largest populations and a mission to maintain peace and stability in the region and achieve its prosperity and rejuvenation.”

      Areas of cooperation:

      • Explored “China-India Plus one” or “China-India Plus X” cooperation to achieve mutual benefits and win-win outcomes between China and India were very often resorted to. 
      • For instance, cooperation on Afghanistan was agreed upon when the leaders of India and China met in Wuhan in April last year. 
      • Both shared similar views on climate issues and cooperated in some instances to secure energy supplies. 
      • The US-China trade war also induced India-China cooperation in some areas of trade.
      Challenges:
      • Bilateral issues and long-standing disputes
      • India opted out of RCEP
      • India’s unwillingness to facilitate China’s membership in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and China’s reluctance to strengthen the Bangladesh China India Myanmar (BCIM) sub-regional initiative.
      • India’s opposition to BRI
      • India and China have failed to share common perceptions on threats, geopolitical objectives and integration. 

      India’s stand:  New Delhi believed “connectivity in Asia must be consultative, and guided by transparent financial guidelines, principles of good governance, internationally recognized environmental and labor standards, and respect for sovereignty. Foreign Minister S Jaishankar remarked that India believed in a “softer and collaborative diplomacy” and India’s ways of executing projects stem more from a sense of partnership rather than an “all mine” attitude. He said: “The manner in which we do things is more aggregated and more organic.”

      China’s postures: China, on the other hand, is intent on shaping a unipolar Asian order that will be defined by deference to the Middle Kingdom and its increasingly imperial rulers.”

      Way forward:

      An Asian century, in real terms, to be sustainable not only needs a continued economic surge by countries of the continent, it needs the evolution of a shared vision, values and culture that will help keep peace and stability and forge integration across the continent. India-China relations cannot truly herald the Asian Century until they make sincere attempts at engendering shared views on geopolitical objectives and threat perceptions.

      INDIA AND CHINA IN INDO-PACIFIC WORLD

      India and China are part of the new great game in the Indo-pacific region, unfortunately on the either side. India stands for multilateral rule based order which is challenged by China’s clandestine postures in the region by continuously leading salami tactics in the South China Sea. The region has become and is going to be a new war theatre in the coming decades due to the shared interests of the countries in the region, the important choke points and energy availability. China has challenged the occupation of other Islands in the region and is trying to build strategic maritime security architecture in the region by occupying Islands and ports in the region

      India, opposing the unruly and muscular behaviour of China in the region, has vocally opposed the involvement of China and has partnered with like minded countries like the US, Japan and Australia, which is called Quadrilateral Security Alliance (QUAD) to counter Chinese increasing influence. Indian Navy would like to counter-balance China in the Indo-Pacific region but overall Delhi has a more ambivalent approach with Beijing that combines elements of balancing and accommodation. “Moreover, aligning too closely with the objectives of U.S. regional policy would go against the enduring tradition of India’s strategic autonomy. Therefore, the American objective of countering China assigns a supporting role to India that its decision-makers are neither able nor willing to fully embrace, as reflected by public statements from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi distancing himself from the U.S. Indo-Pacific approach.

      ROLE OF CHINA IN POST-COVID WORLD: IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIA

      Scholars around the world are playing with apprehensions that the pandemic is one of those events in history which changes international politics for ever. It is anticipated it will result in a change in the world order in the long run and that too in favour of China. Since, China has recovered astonishingly fast, countries like US and India will remain to be largely affected China has leveraged her position to practise health diplomacy through aid and delivery of necessary items during the crisis and has garnered support from many European and African countries at the cost of declining image of US in the world as a leader. China’s dominance at the WHO has been well recorded along with its continuing salami tactics in the South China Sea during the crisis. China has taken a full control of Hong Kong and initiated adventurism at the Indo-China border in the midst of the Pandemic. It demonstrated the China’s policy of “lone wolf diplomacy” is not going to decline rather accelerate in the post-pandemic world. 

      India’s interests will be severely impacted as a result of increasing China’s clout in the world affairs. India has actively engaged in garnering global support for a multilateral world order in the post pandemic phase. India has conducted virtual session with G-20 and like minded countries like Australia to help build leadership to counter China. India;s role in the Indo-pacific will become more defined and decisive. India’s leadership as a non-permanent member of UNSC and Chair of WHO will enhance India’s leadership in the post-covid world and help leveraging its stature in the world politics. However, India will also face a severe jolt of disrupted supply chains in trade and will also face challenges around enhanced soft diplomatic power of China. More than China need US and India, US and India needs China. So, anti-China Campaigns will not be fruitful in the long run.

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