SINO-INDIA RELATIONS- What went wrong?

The India-China debacle has been the part of the international news, for quite some time now. These strained situations, which have a major impact on our international relations, have a deep historical context, which directs us to the past, which started this.
The Sino-India relations are commonly referred to the bilateral relations between the Indian and the Chinese republic. The modern relationship gained fuel in 1950 when India was among the first countries to end formal ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan). China and India are the two most populous countries and fastest growing major economies in the world. Growth in diplomatic and economic influence has increased the significance of their bilateral relationship. Currently, ties between the two nuclear-armed countries have severely deteriorated due to a military standoff in Bhutan(Doklam).


The place of stand-off[/caption]

      The Sino-India relations date back to the ancient times, when Silk Route acted as the connector between the two. This route also accredited 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. Apart from the good trade relations, the southern dynasty of Cholas and Pallavas maintained a good contact with the Chinese travelers. The Chola navy conquered the Sri Vijaya Empire of Indonesia and Malaysia and secured a sea trading route to China. Also, the northern Harsh and the Tang dynasty maintained the similar good trading relations with the Chinese travelers, traders and diplomats. In fact, the famous book “Astronomical table of sines by the Indian astronomer and mathematician”, by Aryabhatta, was translated into Chinese astronomical and mathematical book, in 718 CE, during Tang dynasty.
       During World War II, India and China, both, played a crucial role in halting the progress of Imperial Japan. The present relations of Sino-India relations were mainly due to the three territorial disputes-
1.) Sino-India war of 1962
2.) Chola Incident 1967
3.) Sino-India skirmish 1987


After math of 1962 war[/caption]


  • 1950s

India became the second non-communist country to join hands and establish diplomatic relations with China on 1st January 1950.
This was followed by a lot of debates and discussions, signing a treaty in April 1954, when the famous “eight-year agreement” on Tibet that will become the “The five principal pillars of co-existence in future” or “The Panchsheel” pact was signed. This pact was proposed and signed between the Indian leader Jawahar Lal Nehru and Chinese premier Mao Zedong. Although Nehru had been severely criticised for his naïve act, it was termed to be “best guarantee of security was to establish a psychological buffer zone in place of the lost physical buffer of Tibet.”
This treaty was followed by the famous Hindi slogan of “Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai”.
In 1954 itself, India published new maps, which claimed the Aksai region under India's territory, brought a new row of debates from China. In January 1959, PRC premier Zhou Enlai wrote to Nehru, pointing out that no government in China had accepted as legal the McMahon Line, which in the 1914 Simla Convention defined the eastern section of the border between India and Tibet. China claimed 104,000 km² of territory over which India's maps showed clear sovereignty, and demanded "Rectification" of the entire border.



How TIME magazine showed the Panchsheel talks[/caption]

  • 1960s

With Indian support, Tibetan delegates signed an agreement in May 1951 recognizing PRC sovereignty but guaranteeing that the existing political and social system of Tibet would continue. This incident fuelled the fire further into the already strained Sino-India relations. As a result, 20th October 1962 saw the war between China and India over territorial disputes. The border clash resulted in a defeat of India as the PRC pushed the Indian forces to within forty-eight kilometers of the Assam plains in the northeast and occupied strategic points in Ladakh, until the PRC declared a unilateral cease-fire on 21 November and withdrew twenty kilometers behind its contended line of control.
The communist party of India was accused of being “Pro-China”, which resulted in its split into “CPI” and “CPI-M” (Marxist). Relations between the PRC and India deteriorated during the rest of the 1960s and the early 1970s as China–Pakistan relations improved and Sino-Soviet relations worsened. The China backed Pakistan in its 1965 war with India. Between 1967 and 1971, an all-weather road was built across territory claimed by India, linking PRC's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with Pakistan; India could do no more than protest.
In September 1967, Chinese troops opened fire on a detachment of Indian soldiers tasked with protecting an engineering company that was fencing the North Shoulder of Nathu La, which advanced into heavy firing, killing 62 Indian soldiers.
On 1 October 1967, some Indian and Chinese soldiers had an argument over the control of a boulder at the Chola outpost in Sikkim (then a protectorate of India), triggering a fight that escalated to a mortar and heavy machine gun duel. On 10th October, both sides again exchanged heavy fire.


1960s Sino-India stand-off[/caption]


  • 1970s

In August 1971, India signed its Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Co-operation with the Soviet Union. The China sided with Pakistan in its December 1971 war with India. Although China strongly condemned India, it did not carry out its veiled threat to intervene on Pakistan's behalf.

  • 1980s

In 1984, squads of Indian soldiers began actively patrolling the Sumdorong Chu Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. In the winter of 1986, the Chinese deployed their troops to the Sumdorong Chu before the Indian team could arrive and built a Helipad at Wandung. Surprised by the Chinese occupation, India's then Chief of Army Staff, General K.Sundarji, airlifted a brigade to the region.
Chinese troops could not move any further into the valley and were forced to get away from the valley. By 1987, Beijing's reaction was similar to that in 1962 and this prompted many Western diplomats to predict war. However, Indian foreign minister N.D. Tiwari and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi traveled to Beijing to negotiate a mutual de-escalation.
The relations were pacified by the visit of our then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in 1987, which stressed on a joint commune to restore friendly relations based on Panchsheel.


refugees fleeing from the border during India-China war[/caption]



In April 2015, The BRICS summit in Sanya, Hainan, China,  two countries agreed to restore the deafening ties with each other. The year 2012 was a year of slow progress, through trade as it showed India exchanging US$100 billion trades with China by 2015.The Bilateral trade between the two countries reached US$73 billion in 2011, making China India's largest trade partner, but it slipped to US$66 billion in 2012.
In the 2012 BRICS summit in New Delhi, India, Chinese President Hu Jintao told Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that "it is China's unswerving policy to develop Sino-India friendship, deepen strategic cooperation and seek common development" and "China hopes to see a peaceful, prosperous and continually developing India and is committed to building more dynamic China-India relationship".
However, the three-week standoff in close proximity to each other and the Line of Actual Control between Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh region and Aksai Chin, was diffused on 5th May 2015, which severed the progressive Sino-India ties. The tension caused by stand-off was (tried) diffused by the Chinese premier, Le Keqiang”s visit on 18 May 2013 in a bid to increase diplomatic cooperation, to cement trade relations, and formulate border dispute solutions.
However, disruptions have risen, again, due to China building trade routes with Pakistan on disputed Kashmir territory, even after having a “convergence of views” on emanating Pakistan terrorism.


current India-China relationd[/caption]


  16th June 2017 was another date which was a major dent in all the progressive relations between Sino-India talks. Chinese troops with construction vehicles and military vehicles begin extending the road in Doklam area, territory asserted by China as per 1890 Calcutta Convention, while considered to be Bhutanese by India and Bhutan. On June 18, 2017, around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers, entered Doklam to stop the Chinese troops from constructing the road. Among other charges, China accused India of illegal intrusion into its territory across mutually agreed China-India boundary and violation of its territorial sovereignty and UN Charter, while India accused China of changing status quo in violation of a 2012 understanding between the two governments regarding the tri-junction boundary points and causing security concerns, widely understood as its strategic Siliguri Corridor.
Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj quoted, “if China unilaterally changes status-quo of tri-junction point between China-India and Bhutan then it poses a challenge to the security of India.” Furthermore, Indian media reported that Bhutan issued a demarche which stated that China withdraws the road-construction and re-establish the status-quo.
On August 2, 2017, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, reported, that the Indian border forces have illegally crossed the border between China and India. It further said that China notified India regarding its plan to construct road "in advance in full reflection of China’s goodwill", which was neither confirmed nor denied by the Indian Government.
On Thursday, India accorded a ceremonial welcome to Nepali Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, which coincided with three-day before the talk with Chinese premier himself. President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi received Deuba before the guard of honor at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. As the Doklam situation continues, both the countries jostle to win Nepal over.


The tri-junction platform of trifle and trouble[/caption]

The present Doklam stand-off determines a tense environment for both the countries, which results in an unrequited participation of Bhutan and Nepal. In lieu of current scenario, it is possible to say that the solution won’t be reached anytime soon. Even with the United States’ peaceful involvement, it is difficult for either of the countries to arrive at any impasse. Hence, keeping this in mind, the forces of both countries have been withdrawn from Doklam, thus ending the stand-off between India and China.



Post Author: Bhavya Srivastava