On 1st April 2020, India and China marked the 70 years of the establishment of Indo-China diplomatic relations. With the recent developments in the relations of two nations and the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations makes the “Indo-China Relations’ an important topic for UPSC Civil Services 2020 Prelims and Mains GS Paper-II. These two emerging and enduring powers representing two modes of civilization signify a complex and dynamic relationship. Let’s study this in detail:
The Background of India-China Relation
China was established on 1st October 1949. On April 1, 1950, India and China established their diplomatic relations and India was the first non-communist country to establish an Embassy in China. The catchphrase Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai was borne as a result of this bilateral relation.
Year 1954: Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai visited India in the month of June. China and India signed the Joint Statement and jointly advocated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence(Panchsheel). In October 1954, Indian Prime Minister Sh. Jawaharlal Nehru visited China. He was the first head of government of a non-socialist country who visited China since its foundation.
Year 1962: The Sino-Indian Conflict (Indo-China Border Conflict) led to a major backlash in bilateral relations.
Year 1976: In August 1976, India and China restored ambassadorial relations
Year 1988: Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited China to initiate the process of normalization of bilateral relations between the two nations. During the visit, both nations agreed to develop and expand bilateral relations in all fields.
Year 1992: President R. Venkataraman paid a state visit to China in May 1992. He was the first President who visited China since the independence of the Republic of India.
Year 1996: Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited India. He was the first head of state from China who visited India since the establishment of bilateral ties. In this visit, the agreement between the Government of China and the Government of India on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas was signed.
Year 2000: Indian President K R Narayanan visited China on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and India.
Year 2003: Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee visited China. The two sides signed The Declaration on the Principles and Comprehensive Cooperation in China-India Relations and agreed to establish the special representatives meeting mechanism on India-China boundary question.
Year 2017: Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Indian Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Astana. Prime Minister Modi visited China to attend the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen and met with President Xi Jinping on the sidelines.
India-China Trade Relations
Since the beginning of the 21st century, trade between China and India has grown from less than $3 billion to nearly $100 billion, an increase of about 32 times. In 2019, the trade volume between China and India was $92.68 billion.
The Development Research Center of the State Council of China has held 4 rounds of dialogues with the NITI Aayog of India, reaching consensus on promoting sustainable and high-quality economic development of two countries, safeguarding global multilateral trade mechanisms, promoting the reform of the global governance system and guarding against international economic and financial risks.
China and India have held 6 rounds of strategic economic dialogues to exchange macroeconomic policies on infrastructure, high technology, energy conservation, and environmental protection, energy, and medicine and promote practical economic and trade cooperation. India-China economic relations constitute an important element of the strategic and cooperative partnership between the two countries.
Many institutional frameworks were placed in place to improve and enhance economic cooperation between the two countries. In addition to the Joint Economic Group on Economic Affairs and Commerce, Science and Technology (JEG) for India-China and the Strategic and Economic Dialog (SED) for India-China, a Financial Dialog between the two countries has also taken place since 2006.
However, the Union Government banned 59 Chinese mobile applications, including top social media platforms such as TikTok, Helo, and WeChat, to counter the threat posed by these applications to the country’s “sovereignty and security,”. ShareIT, UC browser, and shopping app Clubfactory and Shein are among the other prominent apps that have been blocked. This ban is likely to affect the Indo-China trade relations in the long-run.
According to a report published in April by Paulson Institute’s MacroPolo think tank, six of the top 10 most downloaded apps in India were from Chinese tech companies, compared with four from US companies.
India-China Diplomatic Relations
There are 50 dialogue mechanisms between China and India for exchanging views on various topics of bilateral, regional, and global concern. 20 Inter-parliamentary friendship groups have been set up by China and India.
The two countries have held frequent exchanges of high-level visits. President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have had 16 bilateral meetings since 2014, enhancing political mutual trust, properly managing differences, expanding practical cooperation so as to guide a better and more stable development of bilateral ties.
However, border stand-off at the LAC in Ladakh, in a Doklam-like situation in the month of April 2020 has put on some tensions between the two nations. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) clarified it will resolve the border stand-off “peacefully through dialogue” turning down the US President Donald Trump’s offers to mediate between India and China.
Recent Developments in the India-China Relations
- Chinese and Indian forces clashed at Nathu La, Sikkim (India), on 10 May 2020 with 11 Indian fatalities. After the Sikkim scuffles, tensions between the two countries rose in Ladakh, with a multi-place mobilization of troops.
- The initial weeks of June 2020 saw a significant build-up of troops on both sides of the LAC, with strength matching between both the Indian and Chinese armies
- After a high-level visit by commanding officers of both the Indian and Chinese armies, on June 9th, 2020, the Chinese army agreed to withdraw from the disputed territories about 2-2,5 km away, with the Indian army also agreeing to disengage at certain places. Further disengagement talks are supposedly expected in the coming days.
- On the evening of 15 June 2020. One commanding officer and two Indian Army jawans lost their lives during a violent face-off with Chinese troops in Eastern Ladakh's Galwan district. These are the first deaths from the battle on the contested frontier since 1975.
- On the night of June 17, a total of 20 Indian Army personnel, including a colonel, were killed during a violent clash with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh's Galwan Valley, escalating the already volatile border standoff between the two sides.
- On June 29, India on banned 59 apps originating from China. The ban has been enforced under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. This action, however, is more sweeping, impacts more apps, and has been taken in a specific strategic and national security context. It could be a warning to bigger Chinese businesses in India, and to China itself.