India and China are the world’s fast mounting economies influencing global politics affecting 2.5 billion of their subjects via their policies. Both states account for one-fifth of the total populace of the globe. Asia’s overall progress, peace, prosperity and stability is directly influenced by the relations of these two Asian competitors. It is anticipated that by 2025, these states would be world’s economies. However, bilateral disputes and enmity wield greater regional and global implications, which are intensely required to be resolved for the best and prosperous future. One of the most crucial aspects aggravating Sino-Indian relations is the asylum given to Dalai Lama and the status of Tibet. China has been assisting Pakistan economically and technically to build Gwadar Port, supporting Sri Lankan northern Hambantota Port, extending sustenance to Bangladesh’s Chittagong Port, and furthering support to the Myanmar Port lying at the coastal region of the Indian Ocean. However, the strained relations for decades between India and China had given little space for healthy trade, increasing from 3 billion $ in 2000 to 20 billion $ in 2010.
Sino-Indian Issues, Tibet and Dalai, Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, Nuclear Nexus, Hard and Soft Power, Economic and Trade, Pak-China Relations
India got independence on 15 August 1947, soon after the Second World War, from the colonial clutches of the United Kingdom, while The People Republic of China was established on October 1, 1949. Both the countries were enthusiastic in making cordial relations with each other, and India became the first non-communist state to inaugurate an Embassy in China. Diplomatic relations were established between the two countries on 1st April 1950.(Dominic Wilson ,Roppa Purushothaman, 2003)In 1954, the two states mutually signed “The Panchsheel Agreement” (based on the five principles of peaceful co-existence). Both the Chinese Premier (Zhou Enlai) and Indian Premier (Nehru) exchanged visits to each other countries in June and October 1954.(Reeves, 2011)The Sino-Indian war of 1962 led to a grave obstacle in mutual relations. Though diplomatic relations between the two states were re-established in 1976, and formal political interactions were invigorated with the visit of the then Indian External Affairs Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, in 1979 but the environment of mutual suspicion still prevails.
The multifaceted rivalry between India and China is the outcome of their mutual conflict on the boundary dispute, each state sees itself through the prism of realism to be the future Asian and global power, both are populous societies and seek alternative energy resources to cater to their domestic needs, Both the states are emerging powers and trying to link themselves with other powers, and each aspires to secure dominance in Asia. Following are the underlying factors that ignite the fire of rivalry between India and China.
China has been successful in resolving border disputes with twelve countries out of the total fourteen countries with whom it has been sharing borders. Only Bhutan and India have unsettled border issues with Beijing.(Steven Hoffmann, 1990) China has been claiming the 92,000 square kilometres area of Aksai Chin, lying on the eastern rims of the Himalaya and is directly controlled by India. Similarly, India is criticizing the suzerainty of Beijing on Arunachal Pradesh (an area over 40,000 square kilometres on the western flanks of Himalaya), considering it to be a part of India (Zijian, 1999). The controversial dilemma is the result of two agreements.
In 1904 Anglo-Tibetan treaty was concluded between British and Tibetan governments resulting in Aksai Chin coming under British control, but the Qing Empire of the time refused the validity of the treaty, claiming that Tibet( being part of China), did not have the right to enter into treaties with foreign powers (Scott, 2008).
Similarly, McMahon Line was contracted between the British Officials and the Tibetan government in 1914 at Simla Convention, which led Arunachal Pradesh to come under British control, but China refused to accept the agreement.(Goswam, 2010)
Both of the border agreements were concluded without the consent of China and were apprehended by Beijing as a gross violation of its territorial integrity. China, due to its domestic political instability, remained silent for quite some time, but in the 1950s, the issue once again re-emerged and troops movements started by both the states along the MacMahon Line. China also constructed a road in Aksai Chin, linking Xinjiang and Tibet.(John W. Garver and Wang Fei-Ling, 2010) Lack of diplomatic channels and the lurking misperceptions between these rivals led the nations to war in 1962, resulting in the defeat of India.
The 1962 war enabled China to ensure its suzerainty over Aksai Chin. China got a victory against India; nevertheless, Chinese forces unilaterally decided to withdraw to a de facto contour back around the MacMahon Line. This act by Beijing was still not productive to sojourn the feelings of enmity between both nations. Indian political and military leadership took the defeat to hearts, and its impacts have been still present in the Indian national psyche.
It is a little naive to think that the trouble with China was essentially due to a dispute over some territories. It had deeper reasons. Two of the largest countries in Asia confronted each other over a vast border. They differed in many ways. And the test was as to whether any one of them would have a more dominating position than the other on the border and in Asia itself (Scott, 2008).
This resulted in the breakdown of relations between the two states, and their slogans of fraternity and friendship changed into that of enmity, and Sino-Indian rivalry paved the way for competition between these states for the future Asian leadership. The 1962 war and the Indian defeat gave rise to such hurt reminiscence in Indians that even after the lapse of a half-century. The border issues between China and India have never been negotiated considerably to be resolved or demarcated, and the question of the exertion of sovereignty remains still unanswered.
The 4056 kilometres long border between China and India and one of the world’s longest inter-state frontiers and the sole Chinese border, still remains indeterminate. It has also never been defined and demarcated by the maps as well.
Efforts for solving borders issues between China and India are nominal. Parameters and Administrative principles were agreed upon for negotiation in 2005 but were never fruitful. During the visit of Hu Jintao to India in 2006, He once again reiterated Beijing’s claim to Arunachal Pradesh. Similar prospects happened in 2006 and 2007 and in 2008 respectively when Manmohan Singh’s paid a visit to China.(Choudhury, 2008)
Though efforts have been initiated for confidence-building measures, joint reduction of troops, the conduct of regular meetings among the commanders of local military, deputed both sides of the borders and the notification of military manoeuvres in advance nevertheless, keeping in mind the strategic claims, both of the states are bolstering the infrastructure links alongside the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The unresolved frontiers alongside the Himalaya have been and will be the point of disputation in future. These frontiers have caused both the states to fight the 1962 war and still contain the elements for future conflict between the two Asian giants.
China is quite able through Tibet to control Aksai Chin. The advancement in military capabilities, the numerical supremacy of Chinese forces over India and the economic lead enable China to stand in a decisive position. If India wishes to take back the control of Aksai Chin, It will have to strike the central power of China, which cannot be realized with present Indian postures.
This advancement on the sides of Beijing gives China the advantage to differ any settlement on Aksai Chin with India. This issue could be resolved by India controlling Arunachal Pradesh, and China exerts suzerainty over Aksai Chin, but the Tawang pocket that is connected with Arunachal Pradesh halts the progress towards a settlement of a territorial dispute between India and China. Tawang is connected with Tibet, and China never cedes it to India, for it provides the former with strategic significance.
One of the most crucial aspects aggravating Sino-Indian relations is the asylum given to Dalai Lama and the status of Tibet. The administrative officials of the Tibet Government have been in exile that has been given asylum by India for the last 56 years. Dharamsala (Indian city) is their home. India is an abode to almost two hundred thousand Tibetans who are living in exile.
In 1959, Jawaharlal Nehru gave asylum to Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugees despite the Chinese’ premier insistence to deny them refuge. (Brigadier R K Jagga, 2012).
Dalai Lama has been insistent on greater autonomy for Tibet within China. Considering it be unlawful and against the norms, China has been declining to enter into any significant dialogue with Tibet Government in exile to reach any meaningful conclusion about the future of Tibet. (Brigadier R K Jagga, 2012).
China ruminates Dalai Lama’ assertion on Tibet autonomy to be an act of extricating the Autonomous Region of Tibet from China. Beijing suspects Indian help for the refugees of Tibet and that of Dalai Lama to against the unity of China. China is assertive that India, by being supportive of the separatists, is pursuing a policy of strengthening secessionists with a purpose to weaken Beijing and pose threats to the unity and sovereignty of China. India is challenging the core national interest of China and endangering One China Policy. The asylum given to Tibet Government in Exile is considered by China vulnerable to the sovereignty and integrity of Beijing. India, on certain occasions, has reiterated its stand that Tibet is an integral part of China and is not posing any threat to the sovereignty of Beijing, but this has never been satisfied with China. Beijing is adamant that Indian reverence for Dalai Lama is a point of suspicion that can escalate dangers for China from Indian Territory.
The political asylum given to Dalai Lama and refugees can have political repercussions for Beijing. China is mindful of the fact that India may use Tibet issue for justifying its territorial entitlements with Beijing. The dispute of Tibet and that of Dalai Lama is intensifying day by day and even after the lapse of decades no serious efforts have been initiated to deliberate the issue with prudence. This is one of the most crucial issues that deny both the states to enter into fraternal relations.
Indian Suspicion of Chinese Support to Maoists and Rebels in the North East
Indian north eastern states share 1561-kilometer border with China. India suspects Beijing for helping the
lurking insurgent groups in these states. India ruminates China for helping in military training and providing arms to the insurgents of North-Eastern India. Beijing supports the insurgency via the help of Myanmar’s Kachin Independent Army, thinks India. The Indian Maoists receive the arms through the frontiers of Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh. The recovery of radio sets and Chinese made arms from the Maoists has turned this suspicion into fact. Many among the political and strategic analysts in India suspects China for trying to institute an access passage to these areas by assisting Maoists achieve power.
China’s renewed interest in insurgencies in the north eastern states if seen in the backdrop of its increasing aggressiveness on diplomatic front, military activities in border areas, claims on Arunachal Pradesh and the links of the Maoists with insurgents in the Northeast have the potential to adversely affect the ongoing thaw in the relationship.
The Indian Ocean is bound for the importation of goods both for India and China. The Indian Ocean is solely responsible for the importation of oil for Beijing. Almost 85% of oil and its by-products transit to China, passing via Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean. This is a point of concern for China as India has a strong presence in the Indian Ocean.
Similarly, India imports a large volume of coal and oil, which is bound to be transit through the Strait of Hormuz that gives an edge to China, where it has strong control via its presence at Gwadar Port. China is trying to counter balance Indian influence at Malacca Strait, and India is keen to overcome the dilemma of the Strait of Hormuz, where Beijing has been a threat to India due to its presence at Gwadar.
India is equally suspicious of China’s helping the countries lying on the coasts of the Indian Ocean with building ports or further developing the existing ports in these countries. China has been assisting Pakistan economically and technically to build Gwadar Port, supporting Sri Lankan northern Hambantota Port, extending sustenance to Bangladesh’s Chittagong Port, and furthering support to the Myanmar Port lying at the coastal region of the Indian Ocean.
China may, without suspicion, use these ports against New Delhi with a view to economically and militarily weaken India. Though this is envisioned by India as “China’s String of Pearls” strategy to encircle India nevertheless, Beijing, on many occasions, has denied Indians allegations. India, in response to Beijing’s String of Pearls strategy, is fostering its feet in the Nicobar and Andaman islets to bolster Malaccan Strategy. It has been considered in the world circle that the Indian fifteen years defence strategy is not against Pakistan but to counter-balance China. (Baral, 2012)
India, along with Israel and Pakistan, have never contracted the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) and CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty). Because of not signing these treaties, India is considered by the world community that it can proliferate nuclear arsenals to other states of the world. India is, on the other hand, critical of these treaties to be biased and unequal as these exclude the five major powers who are more improving their nuclear capabilities.
Though Beijing is no longer fearful of the threat from Russian, however, the Indo-US strategic relationships in the region is a point of concern for China. Similarly, India is also apprehensive of the Sino-Pak nexus in the region. Pakistan is enhancing its nuclear capability keeping in mind the threat from India, and likewise, India is promoting its nuclear competence to deter Beijing. This has become a complicated issue of the nuclear game in the region and is difficult to overcome.
India is aware of the fact that Beijing has helped Pakistan promote its nuclear program and similarly considering Pakistan to have secretly helped Libya, Iran, and North Korea develop its nuclear programs. As is the case, India sees Pak-China nexus as responsible for the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region. India, time and again, thinking Beijing to have provided a shield to Pakistan’s nuclear developments. The nuclear tests of 1998 by New-Delhi were criticized by China for paving paths for arms struggle in the region, but the passive behavior of Beijing regarding the nuclear tests of Pakistan in response to the Indian tests was a point of concern for New-Delhi. Furthermore, India directed her nuclear tests to deter China’s hegemony in the region which also add oil to the hostility between Beijing and New-Delhi. Supporting Pakistan, China strongly opposed the US provision of nuclear reactors to India, but because of pressure from the USA, it became inert and, in response enabling Pakistan to further receive two nuclear reactors from Beijing for counter-balancing the threat from India. Though India is a nuclear power state, however, Beijing has not recognized it to be a nuclear power country. (Baral, 2012)
India is considering Pakistan is supporting terrorist activities on Indian soil and backing terrorist undertakings in Jammu and Kashmir, and being the close friend of China; Beijing is further assisting Pakistan in these acts and the claims on Kashmir. India is accusing Pakistan that it has links with Al-Qaeda and shielding Haqqani Network over here, which has been active in Afghanistan. New-Delhi also held Pakistan responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. India is fostering its claims of Pakistan’s involvement in terrorism with the killing of Osama Bin Laden by US forces in Abbottabad on 2nd May 2011.
In all these circumstances, India is accusing China of not voicing against Pakistan but rather supporting it. India is condemning China for creating hurdles for big powers to take significant measures against Pakistan. China is, on the other hand, criticizing India for holding Pakistan responsible for all these things unfairly. The reciprocal stance of China and India in this connection is also an element of controversy. (Baral, 2012)
China exceeds India in hard power, which is based on military and economic proficiencies. China has controlled much of the world trade, and its Gross National Product (GDP), per capita, income and GDP (Gross Domestic Product) excels India and make Beijing the second-largest economy in the world. China allocated 4.3 percent of its GDP for defence and spent $71 billion for the said purpose in 2009, having a comparative advantage over India, which in the same year allocated 2 percent of its GDP for defence and spending only 29 billion dollars for this end. India is also lagging behind Beijing in keeping active troops. India has only 13 lakhs active troops while China exceeds India by having 23 lakhs, vigorous troops. Beijing is boasting of having 2000 warfighters leaving India far behind as India keeps only 500 warfighters. Similarly, China is far ahead of India in combatant tanks. Beijing possesses 7500 combating tanks, while New-Delhi is poorly possessing 3000 fighter tanks. China is also leading India in submarines as it has 62 submarines, of which one-sixth with the ability of nuclear power, whereas New-Delhi has just 16 submarines that lacks nuclear power capabilities. (Baral, 2012)
Basic elements of soft power include ideology, freedom, culture, human rights, science and technology. Though there is no huge break between Indian and China regarding soft power, nevertheless, each state endeavors to beat the opponent by promoting its culture, ideology etc. Both the states are among the world’s old civilizations, each boasting of cultural and philosophical superiority. Equally, each state knows that the promotion of culture and philosophy abroad can pave the way for effective diplomacy, and likewise, both nations have directed their resources to conduct fruitful diplomacy abroad by propagating their cultures.
Promoting Chines culture, Beijing has established almost 282 Confucius institutes and nearly 272 classes globally. China has envisioned the plan to teach the Chinese language that can best promote China’s culture and, in return, be used as a diplomatic tool. Beijing is, on the one hand, working to promoting Buddhism with a view to foster relations with Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, who have large populations of Buddhists and alienating Tibetan’s Dalai Lama on the other hand. Though India is also struggling in the same vein China, due to its condition of economically well-off, has the edge over India. This competition of cultural diplomacy is at present woks out for China, not New-Delhi.
In information Technology India is quite successful and has excelled many of its adversaries. There are hardly a few countries that can catch-up with India’s superiority in software. China, on the other hand, has achieved far-excellence in hardware.
The only thing that makes India go ahead of China is its huge democracy. It is beyond doubt that Indian democracy has been remained stable and smoothly functioned for almost 69 years. In developing countries, India can boast of an established democracy. In contrast, China has been criticized by the international community for the command economy and one-party rule.
India has established grounds and paved the way for liberal democracy, and China has been promoting the principles of socialism. The tussle between ideologies is also making way for conflict between the two giants of Asia. (Baral, 2012)
The strained relations for decades between India and China had given little space for healthy trade between the two nations. The bilateral trade between Beijing and New-Delhi was just 3 billion dollars in 2000. With the gradual ease in the tension between the nations, the present trade volume has exceeded 60 billion. Before China, the US was the largest trade partner of India. Now the US has been replaced by China, and India has become the 10th largest partner of China in trade. China receives mostly raw materials and semi-finished goods exported to it by India, while India gets high-tech and manufactured goods exported to it by China.
In bilateral trade, the surplus has always been in favor of Beijing. Only in 2004 that trade surplus was in India’s favor with a 1.75billion dollar trade surplus with China, but this did not remain for long, and in 2008, to its disappointment, India’s trade balance with Beijing touched a total 11 billion dollars trade deficit, and to the astonishment of India this trade deficit with China exceeded to 20 billion dollars in 2010.
Due to the command economy, China has the leverage of low priced goods, and this policy of China has always been criticized by India and the USA, blaming China for intentionally keeping goods underrated. Similarly, India is also apprehensive of China’s impediments enacted for the purpose to halt New-Delhi’s pharmaceutical and other related companies’ access to Beijing’s markets.
Economic relations certainly affect the political atmosphere among nations, and unless India and China resolve the economic ties, the political sphere will be oblivious. Furthermore, the Indian ambition of regional hegemon is always thwarted by China. China is taking advantage of the strained relations of India with its neighboring countries. Beijing has extended economic relations with almost all the countries in the region, thus creating intricacies for New-Delhi to have access to the markets of these countries. (Baral, 2012)
India, like Japan, South Korea and the US, wants to have access to the markets of Southeast Asian nations, which was neglected by it in the past. It tries to minimize China’s influence in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). ASEAN is the association of different nations of the region exceeding 1.8 billion people with almost 2.8 billion dollars GDP is the centre of attraction for both Beijing and New-Delhi. Both are trying to surmount each other to capture the markets here.
Keeping in mind the natural resources of African nations, Beijing has been busy there in philanthropic acts. China has invested immensely in these countries to build roads, railway tracks and construct other infrastructure there. It has strengthened the native states via economic investment and aid. These economic ties have, in return, strengthen China’s hold in these countries to sway for long. The oil and other natural resources of these nations are not beyond China’s access anymore. In trade terms, India is here to lagging behind China. The mutual Indo-African trade has barely more than 40 billion dollars, while the Sino-African trade volume excelled 126.9 billion dollars in 2010.
The third world countries have been declared by India and China mutually to be excluded from competition between them. Both Beijing and New-Delhi have confirmed that in third world countries, they would not play like rivals. (Baral, 2012)
India, on the other hand, also tries to lead African states. China has arranged in Beijing the summit of the African state in 2006. It was perceived by India as a threat for the future as it could pave the way for China to directly control the resources of this region. To counter this dilemma, New-Delhi arranged two summits of these states in 2008 and 2011, respectively. India has extended its assistance in economic aid, sharing its skills and knowledge in the education and IT sectors. New-Delhi has started many projects for the improvement of human resource development in African states to foster human and material advancement. India announced 5.4 million dollars for African nations in 2008 to develop infrastructure for further integrating this region. Similarly, in 2011, India offered 5 billion dollars in aid for different developmental ventures. It also announced a 3 million dollars aid for the railway track between Djibouti and Ethiopia. Here too, China is far ahead of India by providing African nations with concessional loans exceeding 10 billion US dollars. Beijing is quite successful here in making itself popular through aid diplomacy in Africa.
China and India have one of the longest unsettled borders in the world. From 1962 till 1981, both countries did not take significant steps to ease border tension. It was in the 1980s that both India and China tempted towards talks on borders. From 1981 to 1987, eight combined rounds of talks were held to reach a conclusion for parameters regarding the demarcation of the borders. These efforts were not that much fruitful. Since 1993 fourteen rounds of Joint Working Group (JWG) meetings being concluded, but the outcome was the same as in the past. This situation has further increased the tension between China and India. China is Considering Indian, and India is anticipating China to have seized its area.
The then China Prime Minister Zhou En-Lai in 1960 has given a proposal to India which suggested that New-Delhi will accept China’s suzerainty over Aksai Chin, and in exchange, Beijing will accept McMahan Line lying in the east. This offer made by China was not honoured by India, and the issue remained the same.
In 1988 Rajiv Gandhi visited China and assured China that Tibet was China’s integral part. This was the first time that both states turned towards establishing fraternal relations. This kind of acceptance of China’s suzerainty over Tibet was also recognized by India during Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to China in 2003. This visit has historical significance for India accepted One China Policy. And Beijing move on Sikkim was also in a constructive direction, but China’s claim over a significant portion of Sikkim distorted relations once again. (Baral, 2012)
During the last hours of China’s Prime Minister’s visit to India in 2010, New Delhi categorically declined its backing of the integrity of Beijing in the shape of the One China Policy. India also refused Tibet to be part of China. This overall scenario shows that both India and China have been assertive in their stances, and no one is expected to step back or to compromise. These situations make one predict that the historical enmity could never be resolved in the near future. (Baral, 2012).
Afghanistan is a war-torn country that has been in the control of foreign forces. The natural resources of Afghanistan attract each and every state of the world. It is considered of prime importance by both China and India, and each state has certain interests in Afghanistan. India thinks Pakistan to promoting the interest of Beijing in Afghanistan in the shape of Taliban and other similar forces fighting ISAF and NATO, while Beijing is suspicious of India by pursuing its interest in Afghanistan through the Northern Alliance.
Considering themselves to be the sole hegemons of the region, China and India equally compete with each other in this region. Gwadar Port, with the assistance of China and Chabahar Port, with Indian support, prove this assertion that each state is striving to excel the other in this competition for the natural resources of Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics. (Baral, 2012)
India is aware of the fact that Vietnam and the South China Sea’s other coastal States abhor Beijing’s Claim over a certain island. These Islands are abundant in oil and other similar natural resources. India is trying to downplay China’s influence here in this region. New-Delhi has established friendly relations with Vietnam as both have remained enemies of China at times, and each state has fought wars with Beijing. Even in 2011, the Indian Naval Vessel threatened the Chinese naval force by its presence in the South China Sea. This scenario is also another point of enmity between India and China. (Baral, 2012)
Pakistan came into being on August 14th, 1947, and China got freedom in 1949. Pakistan was among the first nations to accept China and sought its seat in the UN. Both China and Pakistan have always been amicably resolved their mutual issues. Soon after China’s independence, Pakistan extended cooperation to China regarding resolving the border issue between Pakistan and China. The Sino-Pak relations are considered to be higher than Himalaya and deeper than the Arabian Sea. Though both the countries were close to each other from the very start; nevertheless, the Indo- Sino War of 1962 on the border issue between India and China further extended this closeness. Soon after the Indo-Sino War, the two states China and Pakistan signed the Boundary Agreement, and Islamabad ceded a certain portion of disputed Kashmir to China, which further strengthen the ties between Beijing and Islamabad. Pakistan is the sole state that enable China foster relations with the west in general and USA in particular in 1970s. This was the first time Henry Kissinger secretly paid visit to China in 1971.
China has always been cooperative with Pakistan in different ventures of economic, military and strategic prominence. China is the largest arms supplier to Pakistan. Approximately, 51 percent of the arms need of Pakistan is fulfilled by China. During the visit of the Chinese President in 1915. Beijing assured Pakistan of providing the later with fifty JF 17 thunder fighters. China further asserted to enable Pakistan with 70 more fighters in the coming three years.(Kurita, 2015) Pakistan has always been assisted by China in the development and improvement of its nuclear arsenals.
In economic terms, the Chinese President in 2015 announced the CPEC, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, with an initial investment of 46 billion dollars, during his visit to Pakistan. China has planned to construct transference infrastructure, added by fibre-optics and power stations between Gwadar Port and its Xinjiang province. (Shreya, 2015)
Gwadar Port provides China to control of the Sea Lines of Communications and have smooth and safe access to Central Asian republics via Afghanistan. Gwadar enables China with the opportunity to enter into direct trade with the Gulf States.
Keeping all these factors in consideration, India has sought the friendship of the USA to counter the threat from both China and Pakistan. India has already demonstrated the CPEC, for it gives China the control of certain areas, which India believes to be disputed between Pakistan and New-Delhi.(Olmstead, 2014)
China’s blast of a nuclear device in 1964 was a terrible setback for India that was defeated by China in the Sino-Indo war of 1962. China may have been pursuing a nuclear arms race keeping in mind the USA or the then USSR; nevertheless, India took China not only as a regional rival but also as an atomic enemy. The nuclear test of 1974 by India was not only to deter Pakistan but also to counter the Chinese threat. Similarly, the installation by China of CSS5s, a 2145 km medium-range missile at Tibet, was perceived by India as to be projected against India and not Tibet. Likewise, Indian nuclear tests in 1998 were not demonstrated by Indian security and political experts to threaten Pakistan but to show the arch-rival China that New-Delhi is not behind Beijing in a nuclear arms race.
The then Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee said in these words,
“We have an overt nuclear weapons state [China] on our borders, a state that committed armed aggression against India in 1962. Although our relations with that country have improved in the last decade or so, an atmosphere of distrust persists, mainly due to the unresolved border problem. To add to the distrust, that country has materially helped another neighbor of ours [Pakistan] to become a covert nuclear weapons state”.(Scott, 2008)
The same approach was adopted by the Indian general (Amarjit Kalkat), who evaluated the purpose of these tests to counter-balance China in the region. He further asserted that the political world venerates the most equals, and hence it was incumbent upon India to be on equal footing with China.
The 1999 effective test of medium range missile (Agni-II) by India with a range of 3000 km was also hailed by New-Delhi as a sign and symbol of resurgent India. The Agni-II and Pokhran-II were declared by the strategic experts of India as the measures for counter-balancing China. These tests were not directed towards Pakistan; rather, it was declared to be a peripheral factor. The central and core factor was China in these missiles tests.(Paul K. Kerr, K. Alan Kronstadt, Michael F. Martin, Bruce Vaughn, 2011)
This nuclear rivalry does not stop here. The development of further nuclear arsenals binds the two states to compete with each other in these projection in future. Though the Indian missile program is China’s centric nevertheless, China is seemingly more concerned with the Indo-Us nexus and taking measures in this direction. The successful test of the Donfeng -31 missile by China in 1999 can annex every nook and corner of not only the Indian Territory but may also hit major cities in the US as well. This has certainly stirred fear in the Indian political psyche and the strategic analysts at the time, like Chellaney, pointed out that China was expending the capability of its missile technology to make it possible to be able to hit any place of the world in the time of necessity.
In response to Donfeng-31, India tested Agni-III successfully in 2007 and 2008, respectively. The intermediary Agni –III ballistic missile with 3500 kilometres range has the capability to target many of the Chinese states. Similarly, India tested Agni IV in 2008 and 2009 with an array of 5000 km. This was the first time in Indian history that it got the ability to hit every part of China. These developments were envisioned by China as the nuclear encirclement of Beijing by India and the USA, as the later has helped the former to develop missile technology.
In 2007 and 2008, China was threatened by another blow from New-Delhi when India announced its anti-ballistic Missile Defence System effectively. This capability by India was made possible by the USA with its technical and financial assistance.
Though India has been striving to equate the power nexus in the region with China, nevertheless, it still has to go a long way to catch with Beijing. China has excelled in India in military and economic ventures, but the Indo-US nexus may pose certain impediments to Chinese advancement.
The complex enmity of India and China is the result of reciprocated conflicts on border issues, the efforts
by each state to be Asian and global power in the coming years, competition for alternative sources of energy to satisfy the internal needs of their huge populations, the complex power nexus, nuclear agreements and bandwagoning to counter-balance each other and the aspiration of each state to dominate the other to lead Asia.
China has resolved its boundary issues with 12 countries. India and Bhutan are the only exceptions with whom borders are not delineated, resulting in the disputation particularly, between Beijing and New-Delhi. Furthermore, Beijing is demanding 92,000 square km area (Aksai Chin) on the eastern side of Himalaya, and India is reciprocally challenging China’s suzerainty over the 40,000 km long Arunachal Pradesh. Strategically both the areas are of immense importance for each state which has led the countries to fight the 1962 complicated Sino-Indian War resulting in Indian defeat. The Line of Actual Control (LAC) has always been manoeuvred by the regular forces of India and China on their respective sides. The issue still remains unresolved even after the lapse of almost seven decades which never allows the states to further improve relations.
The second contentious issue between India and China is the asylum provided to Dalai Lama and the two hundred thousand Tibetans who are living in Dharamsala city of India for more than sixty years. Beijing blames India for paving lines to disrupt “One China Policy” by being supportive of Dalai Lama and the Tibetans. The Tibetans and Dalai Lama were given political asylum by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959, ignoring the China’s assertion to refuse them shelter.
The states lying on the north-eastern sides of India shares with China a border more than 1561 kilometres long. New-Delhi blames Beijing for supporting Maoists’ Insurgents with the assistance of the Kachin Independent Army through Myanmar. India suspects China that it seeks entrance to this region by supporting Maoists to get power.
Though China excels India in both military and economic strength, the above mentioned unresolved issues between the two sovereign states could escalate into more devastating conflicts like both the countries and the world witnessed still at the end of 2020 and start of 2021.