By Hemant Jain,
If we begin from the very beginning then the relations between India & China officially started on April 1, 1950 wherein India was the second country to establish diplomatic relations with China among the non-socialist countries. In 1954, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and Indian Prime Minister Nehru exchanged visits and jointly initiated the famous Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.
But the major setback came when China attacked Tibet. Therefore, in order to counter the Chinese aggression, a movement was started in Tibet, led by the 14th Dalai Lama. India did not appreciate the action of China and recognized Tibet as an autonomous region of China. In 1959, Dalai Lama came to India, shelter was given to him and thereafter, majority of the Tibetan population reached India.
Government of India’s action was unacceptable to China as China became suspicious of India’s design through Tibetan population. As a result, China declared a war on India in 1962. India was not at all prepared for the war. China defeated India and India had to take military assistance from US which were strongly opposed by Pakistan.
The aftermath of the war saw sweeping changes in the Indian military in order to prepare it for similar conflicts in the future, and placed pressure on Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who was seen as responsible for failing to anticipate the Chinese attack on India. Indians reacted with a surge in patriotism and memorials were erected for many of the Indian troops who died in the war.
Despite lingering suspicions remaining from the 1962 Sino-Indian War and continuing boundary disputes over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, Sino-Indian relations have improved gradually since 1988. Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China in December 1988 facilitated a warming trend in relations. Both countries have sought to reduce tensions along the frontier, expand trade and cultural ties, and normalise relations.
A series of high-level visits between the two nations have helped improve relations. In December 1996, PRC President Jiang Zemin visited India during a tour of South Asia. While in New Delhi, he signed with the Indian Prime Minister a series of confidence-building measures for the disputed borders. Sino-Indian relations suffered a brief setback in May 1998 when the Indian Defence minister justified the country’s nuclear tests by citing potential threats from the PRC. However, in June 1999, during the Kargil crisis, then-External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh visited Beijing and stated that India did not consider China a threat. By 2001, relations between India and the PRC were on the mend, and the two sides handled the move from Tibet to India of the 17th Karmapa in January 2000 with delicacy and tact. In 2003, India formally recognised Tibet as a part of China, and China recognised Sikkim as a formal part of India in 2004.
Since 2004, the economic rise of both China and India has also helped forge closer relations between the two. Sino-Indian trade reached US$36 billion in 2007. The increasing economic reliance between India and China has also bought the two nations closer politically, with both India and China eager to resolve their boundary dispute.
China is now India’s largest trade partner, whereas India is China’s largest trade partner in South Asia. According to statistics released by China’s Ministry of Commerce, bilateral trade between the two countries reached $ 66.47 billion in 2012, China’s export to India was $ 46.47 billion and China’s import from India was $ 18.8 billion. India had a deficit of $ 28.87 billion in its trade with China with an increase of $ 1.79 billion from 2011. Chinese companies had signed contract projects to an accumulated amount of $ 60.131 billion with a turnover of business of $ 33.518 billion by the end of 2012. In two way investments, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce had approved or put on record $ 725 billion of direct investment from China in non-financial projects in India while Indian companies had actually invested $ 486 million in 800 non-financial projects in China by that time.
After looking at these aspects it seems that both countries are coming close to each other. But there are also other dimensions to it.
Chinese have recently demanded Arunachal Pradesh specially Twang Monastery because 6th Dalai Lama took birth there. China wants to control the cultural and spiritual motivation of the opposition of Tibetans by controlling the institution of Dalai Lama. Simultaneously China had encroached Indian boundaries at Daulat Begoldi of 19 km which was opposed by India. Again in July 2013, China has crossed L.A.C in Chumar Valley which is still in consideration.
Although in 1994 both agreed for Secretary Level talks to resolve border issue and in 2005 protocol relating to border issue was signed between both which states that, “None of the side will cross each other territory “. This protocol has been ignored by China in its recent actions.
India-China relations have a long history, which was seen both ups & downs during these last 6 decades. The relations between late 50’s & early 80’s were sour due to circumstances leading to the war of 1962, which led to a serious setback in bilateral relations. Nevertheless, India & China restored ambassadorial relations in 1976. In this backdrop it is essential to know the various to and fro visit of the premiers & other high level dignitaries of both the countries. Like two sides of a coin, India-China has also similar features in their relationships. Both the nations had undergone different phases especially after 1990 understanding to cooperate economically. Due to unique-historical background and lack of mutual understanding between China and India, the bilateral relationship is very vulnerable to criticisms in the media and public opinion.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.