India and China: Prospects and Challenges

Evolution of India-China Relations:-

The past 60 years of India-China relations have obviously signaled that both the countries have been seeking mutually acceptable solutions to the main contention relating to boundary issue’s. It is also generally believed that both countries never allowed the differences to come on their way of bilateral cooperation and engagement.The major challenge confronting India-China relations has been to build mutual trust and confidence.



The most important field for cooperation between China and India will be the trade and economic. In 1984, the two sides signed a Most Favored Nation Agreement (MFN) and trade levels since have increased many times over with the figure touching $74 billion in 2011 from $2.92 billion in 2000. Both countries have set an ambitious trade target of $100 billion in trade by 2015. China questions the length of the border and also disputes the 1914 McMahon Line that demarcates India and China border. China also claims the entire north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which shares border with China. India has also been up in arms against China’s policy of issuing stapled visas for citizens from the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The sharing of river waters is likely to emerge as another problem area for India-China relations in the absence of a treaty between the two countries.The major challenge confronting India-China relations has been to build mutual trust and confidence.

An Era of Creating New Atmosphere and Trust in Bilateral Relations: 1988-1998:-

The period during 1988 – 1998 has been characterized as a period of creating new atmosphere and trust in India – China bilateral relations. The ice in the relationship was broken when the then Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi visited China in December 1988. It was historic because the Prime Minister of India was visiting China after more than three decades.India and China agreed to cooperate for mutual development on a number of areas.

The hallmark of the visit was the creation of Joint Working Group (JWG) for resolving the boundary issue.Since the creation of JWG in the year 1988, 13 rounds of border talks have been organized so far.But, unfortunately nothing concrete has happened in terms of resolving the border issue.Both India and China signed five agreements during Li Peng’s visit to India(1991).These five agreements were relating to the:-

(1)Consul treaty between India and China.

(2)Agreement on Restoration of Consulate General in Bombay and Shanghai.

(3)Memorandum on the Restoration of Border Trade,

(4)India – China Trade Protocol for the year 1992 and

(5)Scientific and Technological Cooperation in Outer Space for the Peaceful use by the aviation ministries of India and China.

The signing of India-China accord on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) during India’s Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s visit in September 1993 brought a new thaw in the bilateral relationship.It was certainly an entry into a new era of India – China relations.

The other signs of improvement in India – China relations came when Chinese
President Jiang Zemin visited India in 1996.During Jiang’s visit, India and China had
signed four important agreements :–

(a) The agreement on confidence building measures (CBMs) in the field of military deployment along the LAC in the India – China border areas.

(b) The agreement relating to the maintenance of the Consulate General of India in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC.

(c) The agreement on cooperation for combating illicit trafficking in drugs and other related issues; and

(d) the agreement on maritime transport.

India and China in the 21st Century:-

It must be emphasized here that Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to India in 2006 and Indian PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to China in 2009 could not make much impact on the bilateral relationships because of the deepening of mistrust from both sides. However, a 10-point Roadmap was drawn up to enhance the Strategic Partnership.

In the 21st century, India and China has emerged as the two visible powers in Asia and in the world with huge populations, growing economies and expanding markets. both the states began to shed their past hostilities towards each other by initiating a number of Confidence and Security Building Measures (CSBM‟s) in various fields like economics, politics, strategic, culture, defence, etc. to stabilise their relationship.

The rapprochement in the bilateral relations between China and India has been viewed differently by different observers. For example, some argue that close relations between the two Asian giants can radically alter their security environment and restructure Asian geopolitics.The document provide’s that India and China:-

1.Building and promoting of a long-lasting peace and common prosperity by developing the cooperative and strategic partnership for peace and prosperity between the two states.

2.For removing mutual suspicion, the two sides are convinced that it is time to look to the future in building a relationship of friendship and trust based on equality in which each is sensitive to the concerns and aspirations of the other.

3.On the issue of constituting foreign policy, the two sides believe that in the new century, Panchsheel, the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, should continue to constitute the basic guiding principles for good relations between all countries and for creating the conditions for realising peace and progress of human kind.

4.On the future of 21st century, the two sides believe that the continuous Democratisation of international relations and multi-literalism are an important objective in the new century.

5.Further, the two sides are convinced that it is in the common interest of the international community to establish an international energy order that is fair, equitable, secure and stable to the benefit of the entire international community.

6.Further, the two sides take the issue of climate change seriously and reiterate their readiness to join the international community in the efforts to address climate change.

7.On the question of boundary issue the two sides remain firmly committed to resolving outstanding differences, including the boundary question, through peaceful negotiation.etc.

Political Conflict and Economic Cooperation:-

India is using its growing economic strength to fund and facilitate the modernisation and expansion of its military strength and presence in its immediate and extended neighbourhood.Along with such strategy, there is also a desire for cooperation on trade and commerce along with some shared interests like safeguarding sea lane, combating terrorism and so on.The bilateral cooperative relationship can be advantageous for both the states. Deng Xiaoping (the Chinese Premier) once remarked that “if China and India are developed, we can say that we have made our contribution to mankind.

On His observation about the importance of “Sino-Indian cooperation” has acquired more significance in the contemporary times as the world is moving towards a multi-polar system with a great impact on the economy, politics and foreign affairs of both China and India.

                                                         For example, China and India share common view points on the human rights issues.They oppose the attempt of some western countries (particularly U.S.A.) to capitalise on the so called “Human Rights Issue”to put pressure on developing countries.

Both the states can jointly project the cause for the establishment of New International Economic and Political Order (NIEPO) devoid of unipolarity in which the strategic, economic, and political independence of all countries all over the world must be taken into account. Being the two largest and fastest growing economies with expanding markets in the world, it is projected that the Sino-Indian bilateral trade would be the world‟s largest trading partnership sometime between 2010 and 2020.

Energy and Maritime Security:-

Both will try to forge closer and deeper security ties with energy rich nations and will also develop strategies to safeguard sea lanes through which the bulk of their trade takes place.India’s energy consumption is expected to grow by between 3.6% & 4.3% per year, and to more than double by 2030.This would make India the world’s third largest importer of oil before 2025.

China thinks big ahead of Modi’s visit:-

China is thinking big ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, opening out the possibility of a partnership with New Delhi in reclusive areas such as nuclear technology and aviation, along with joint forays in West Asia and Africa also cauld “third party cooperation”.India’s support for establishing new rules for “Global governanceincluding reforms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), based on a common strategic view of the world.

More leaders, better relations:-

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu recently visited China, not just as an ambassador for his State, but with the larger objective of improving bilateral relations between India and China. He was chosen by the Ministry of External Affairs to lead this delegation.


There is no doubt in saying that the levels of engagement between India and China have increased certainly to a greater extent. India, at the same time, requires to adopt sophisticated approach to deal with the emerging Strategic challenges being emanating from China.It is high time that both India and China should start emphasizing on resolving the real border issues so that the relationship gets a boost and which ultimately would forge a greater and friendly cooperation.India also requires taking pro-active measures in countering China across its borders. A new pragmatism with a combination of both realism and neo-realism would shape their view of each other.China has also been following the tenets of the ‘Monroe Doctrine’.It would also be in China’s interest if it forges greater and robust partnership with India in the twenty first century.