Sino-India relation (GS-2, international Relations)

Sino-India relation (GS-2, international Relations)

For the current Chinese leadership, the 21st century is destined to be China’s alone, with India to be shown its place

Fifteen months after the clashes between Chinese and Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley, India-China relations are at their lowest ebb in living memory.

There have always been political tensions even before, both over each country’s territorial claims over land controlled by the other, and over such long-term problems as China’s “all-weather” alliance with our hostile separated sibling, Pakistan, and our hospitality to the Dalai Lama, who was granted refuge when he fled Tibet in 1959. India had endorsed the “One China” policy, refusing to support Tibetan secessionism while limiting official reverence for the Dalai Lama to his status as a spiritual leader.

India’s actions and statements are designed not to provoke our northern neighbour, but to relegate the border problem to the back burner while enabling trade relations with China (now worth close to $100 billion) to flourish. India made it clear that it was unwilling to join in any United States-led “containment” of China.

In October 2019 in Mahabalipuram, at their 18th meeting in nine years, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had grandly pledged to take relations between their two countries to “greater heights”. To mark the 70th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries, they announced they would conduct 70 joint activities, including further improving their burgeoning trade, supporting scholarly research into their ancient civilizational links, and even exchanging military delegations, in a grand show of Sino-Indian cooperation.

Prime Minister Modi, had lifted residual restrictions on bilateral Chinese investment in strategic sectors of the Indian economy (notably ports, airports, power generation and telecoms technology), so that by 2020, Chinese investment (current and planned) stood at about $26 billion with infrastructure projects accounting for about half the total.

 India engages with China diplomatically in the BRICS as well as conducting annual summits of RIC (Russia-India-China). India is a partner in the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank (NDB).

 China establishes and fortifies its new deployment. The  mini-crises like minor military incursions, small scale military setbacks on India etc always end with the Chinese in a better position on the ground than before. Each incident establishes a new “normal” on the LAC.

The Chinese strategy 

 After the recent incursions, the Chinese now reportedly control over 900 sq. km of area in Ladakh along the LAC. They are threatening India’s construction of roads, bridges and similar infrastructure on undisputed Indian territory. Rather than merely patrolling, they have established a fixed presence in these areas well beyond China’s own ‘Claim Line’, occupied the “Finger Heights” near Pangong Tso Lake, pitched hundreds of tents, constructed concrete structures and built additional kilometres of road along the LAC. The objective seems to be to extend Chinese troop presence to the intersection of the Galwan river and the Shyok river, which would make the Galwan Valley off bounds to India. The Chinese have constructed permanent structures in the area of their intrusion and issued statements claiming that sovereignty over the Galwan valley has “always belonged” to China.

India’s options

India has reinforced its military assets on the LAC to prevent deeper incursions for now, and hopes to press the Chinese to restore the status quo ante through either diplomatic or military means.

India has responded with largely symbolic acts of economic retaliation, banning Chinese apps in India on grounds of data security. It is likely that Chinese companies will be barred from various lucrative opportunities i.e. Huawei and ZTE, have been barred from the ongoing trials to be picked to build India’s 5G telecoms infrastructure. India has also reimposed tighter limits on Chinese investment in projects such as railways, motorways, public-sector construction projects, and telecoms.


Rajeev Yadav

Plutus IAS Daily Current Affairs 16th September 2021


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