India China relationship: From engagement to estrangement

China is now asserting its policy of expansionism to deseat the United States of America from its position as the most powerful country in the world. In Asia, only India can stand up against the Chinese hegemony.



Vishal Singh Bhadauriya


India and China are two great Asian powers that are palying a significant role in the diplomatic and political sphere of the world. The Indo-China bilateral relationship since the independence of India has been full of hiccups, but as a nation India was the first non-communist country that recognized People’s Republic of China in April 1950.


Under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, India was severely defeated by China in the war of 1962. However, the bilateral ties improved gradually in the late 80s when prime minister Rajiv Gandhi visited China in 1988 and Chinese premier Le Pang visited India in 1991. It is pertinent to understand this in the context of economic liberalization in both the countries, though China had embarked on economic reforms almost a decade ahead of India.


In the past 25 years, both the countries have built channels to resolve old disputes through dialogues and diplomacy. Today, China has emerged as one of the giant powers in terms of economy and defence, so much so, it is now asserting its policy of expansionism to deseat the United States of America from its position as the most powerful country in the world. In Asia, only India can stand up against the Chinese hegemony. China is well aware of this fact and time and again uses its devious skills to downgrade India in the international arena.


Indian governments in the past failed to take a tough stand on China. They followed the policy of appeasement vis-a-vis a China, in spite of our greater national interests being compromised, and thus they maintained economic relations with China. In 2014, when the NDA led BJP government came into power in India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, complete metamorphic changes were made in India’s foreign policy, especially with regards to Chinese skirmishes on Indian borders.


Border security is a priority of this government. As such, numerous border roads and infrastructure projects have been undertaken. This has provided better connectivity to Indian armed forces to safeguard the border and frontline areas. On 5 August 2019, the President of India Ramnath Kovind gave assent to legislation for the bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir in two-units, resulting in emergence of Ladakh as Union Territory. This historic event disrupted the China-Pakistan nexus that opposed to India’s strong footing on its northern and north-western regions of Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh as both the countries had illegally occupied these Indian territories. The first serious call had been noticed by India on 27 August 2019 when the Indian patrolling party was stopped by People's Librations Army of China in Ladakh. Recent flare-up with PLA on 5 May 2020 by the Indian Army was different because the first in 40 years both parties faced casualties. China is known to not yield any information about casualties but as per inputs by American intelligence China lost not less than 35 soldiers. This time the Chinese aggression had been failed.


Most of world powers like the US, UK, France, and Russia have manifested diplomatic goodwill for India. The American government, in the post Covid-19 world order, has openly expressed interest in aligning with India. It has also sent its three nuclear aircraft carriers to the Indo-Pacific region. India to the utter shock of China completely banned 59 Chinese apps citing security issues and took strong measures to fix the trade deficit with China.


Chinese adventurism jeopardizes the idea of Asia. Indian and Chinese bilateral ties are now on the verge of collapse. Consequently the Indian government is making stronger ties with the West, and China is strengthening its ties with Pakistan to put more pressure on India.


America is a very important player in this world region. India and America share the same ethos for democracy and cherish the idea of multiculturalism, pluralism and transparent society for the world. In the present scenario China emerges as the biggest threat to world peace making it important that India and America work together to maintain peace and stability in the region.


China-India relations are complex in their nature. India has the political will and a strong defence mechanism that can counter Chinese expansionism in the Asia as well as safeguard national interests beyond the shores of the Indian Ocean. Sun Tzu, a famous Chinese strategist, said: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”


(Author is an Intern with Academics4Nation. He is a Research Scholar in BHU.)

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