International Relation between India and China

International Relation India China

International Relation between India and China

Relation between India and China oldest living civilizations of the world, had been friendly and cooperative long since ancient times. In recent times, as both the country gained political and economic weightage and shifted the gravity of world politics in to Asia. However, the relationship becomes more stormy, due to the increasing Sino-Indian rivalry.

The religious and economic ties between India and China stretched back to the First Century AD, when trade and pilgrimages was flourishing trough the ancient Silk Road corridor. Various Buddhist monks travelled to China to spread the message of Buddhism whereas, hundreds of Chinese pilgrims travelled into India and studied Buddhism in Nalanda University. After independence, this age old relations developed further, when India offered its unconditional support to Chinese freedom struggle and extended its diplomatic reorganisation to China. However, this friendly relationship started shrinking after the emergence of Chinese War 1962 and Tibetan crisis. Both the countries stand juxtaposed on various international and regional issues.

Among these two most populous countries and fastest growing major economies in the world, growth in diplomatic and economic influence has increased the significance of their bilateral relationship.


Political Relation

India was the first non-communist country to establish an Embassy in People’s Republic of China, after it was established on October 1, 1949. Both side signed the Panchsheel Pact, containing the five principles of friendly peaceful coexistence, on 29th April 1954 in Beijing helped the two countries extend their friendship into a new stage.

The India-China conflict in 1962 led to a serious setback in bilateral relations. India and China restored ambassadorial relations in August 1976.

The Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India – China Border Area was signed in September 1993, providing for both sides to respect the status quo on the border, clarify the LAC where there are doubts and undertake CBMs.

After India’s nuclear tests in May 1998, the relations faced a minor setback. Then Indian PM A.B. Vajpayee visited China in June 2003 during which a Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation was signed. The declaration was the first comprehensive document on development of bilateral relations signed at the highest level between India and China.

The year 2011 was the Year of China-India Exchange. The strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity between China and India maintained the momentum of sound and steady growth.

Commercial and Economic Relations

Several institutional mechanisms have been established for enhancingand strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries. Besides the India-China Joint Economic Group on Economic Relations and Trade, Science and Technology (JEG) and the India-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED), a Financial Dialogue has also been taking place between the two countries since 2006.

India and China officially resumed trade in 1978. In 1984, the two sides signed the Most Favoured Nation Agreement.  India-China bilateral trade which was as low as US$ 2.92 billion in 2000 reached US$ 72.4 billion in 2014-15, mainly due to rapid progress in the last few years, making China India’s largest trading partner in goods. But this trade has long been imbalanced as India’s exports to China was only $ 12 billion, and imports from China was $ 60.4 billion, which resulted in a trade deficit of over $ 48 billion.

As per Chinese figures, cumulative Chinese investments into India till September 2014 stood at US$ 2.63 billion while Indian investments into China were US$ 0.55 billion.

Cultural Relations

This two countries represent the culture and tradition of the orients. They had established greater linkages through cultural exchanges and trade throughout the history. Ancient trade and religious pilgrimages had been flourishing through the ancient silk route for centuries. The spiritual interactions even continued during the medieval period and many Buddhist monks travelled to China, whereas many Chinese travellers visited India for greater religious experience. Xuanzhang, the Chinese monk traveler visited India to know more about Buddhism, India and it’s culture.

The broad contours of the India-China cultural cooperation were laid down in the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation signed in May 1988, which provides for an executive Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) for implementation, to bring their people together. The CEP provides for cooperation in a gamut of cultural fields including exchanges of visits of performing artists, officials, writers, archivists and archaeologists, organizing cultural festivals, film festivals and exchanges in the field of mass media, youth affairs and sports.

In February 2007, the Xuanzhang memorial was inaugurated at Nalanda. Chairs of Indian Studies have also been established in various Chinese Universities. India has also set up six ‘Chairs’ in various universities in China.

Defence Cooperation

This area has historically been of swing mode, the relation sours and sweetens on various different issues, most importantly in border dispute and in relation to India’s North East and China’s Tibet region.

There have been regular high level exchanges at the level of Defence Ministers and Service Chiefs, functional level exchanges and military education exchanges between India and China.

India and China hold an Annual Defence Dialogue to discuss security and defence cooperation issues between the two countries.  Peace and tranquility in the border areas is being maintained in accordance with the various mechanisms and agreements between the two countries, including the ‘Working Mechanism for Consultations and Coordination of India-China Border Affairs’ and the signing of the ‘Border Defence Cooperation Agreement’.

In addition to other high level and functional level exchanges, the 4th edition of Exercise HAND IN HAND, the joint anti-terrorism training exercise was conducted at Aundh, Pune, India.

Border Disputes

Relations between contemporary China and India have been characterised by border disputes, resulting in three military conflicts viz. the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the Chola incident in 1967, and the 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish.

Notions of LAC differs as neither side is willing to show their hand easily, and selling a compromise to domestic constituencies remains difficult for both. Beijing does not seem likely to give up its claim over Arunachal Pradesh, and no Indian government will find it easy to surrender the claim over all of Jammu & Kashmir.

In early 2017, the two countries clashed at the Doklam plateau along the disputed Sino-Bhutanese border.


Race to Regional Dominance

Both the countries being economic and political power house, have plans and aspiration to dominate over the Indian Ocean and it’s peripheral regions. In the name of maintaining regional peace and balance of power, both the countries try to check excesses of the other.

China’s OBOR and aggressive infrastructure projects around India’s neighbours made India worry. India’s insistence to raise South China Sea issue in various multilateral forums subsequently did not help that beginning once again, the relationship facing suspicion from Indian administration and media alike.


Recent Issues

  • China object to India’s admission to United Nations – India is currently struggling to obtain a permanent membership at the UNSC and the Chinese veto is the biggest obstacle in its way, in past India was one of the front line advocates of the Chinese admission into United Nations and UNSC.
  • Doklam Border issues – In June 2017 a military standoff occurred between China and India as China attempted to extend a road on the Doklam plateau southwards near the Doka La pass and Indian troops moved in to prevent the Chinese. India claimed to have acted on behalf of Bhutan, with which it has a ‘special relationship’. Bhutan has formally objected to China’s road construction in the disputed area.
  • CHINA-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)  – CPEC is a $ 52 billion China’s investment driven project in Pakistan to construct this Economic Corridor connecting China and Pakistan. India is opposing the construction of the CPEC as the Corridor will be passing through Gilgit-Baltistan region of POK.
  • China’s object to India’s admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) – India, which is backed by the US and a number of western countries has garnered the support of a majority of the NSG’s members, China has stuck to its stand that new members should sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), making India’s entry difficult as the group is guided by the consensus principle. India is not a signatory to the NPT.

India’s policy goals

  • Peace, stability on the LAC; no further Chinese incursions
  • Roadmap towards solving border issues
  • Balanced Bilateral trade or atleast reduce the trade deficit
  • Strong economic ties, greater Chinese investment in Indian infrastructure.
  • Check Chinese aggressive presence in Indian Ocean region

China’s policy goals

  • Solution to border issue
  • To involve India in his ‘Belt and Road’ vision for the New Silk Route.
  • To integrate India into new China-led global economic infrastructure, viz. BRICS Bank, AIIB
  • Develop regional and global dominance


The two countries shared warm relation established via greater linkages through cultural exchanges and trade throughout the history. The signing of the India China Agreement on Trade in Tibet in 1954 ( or Panchsheel Agreements) was the high point of India-China relationship. The Tibetan issue looks almost settled now and thus solving the the border issue soon will be a win-win situation for both the countries to look back at the century old relationship and maintain cooperative and friendly relation and grow together to realise their shared vision of Asian supremacy. Their friendly relation will create the conducive environment to facilitate greater trade and economic exchanges, people to people contact and will help develop the whole Asian region.




On April 29, 1954, Panchsheel, or the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, were first formally enunciated in the Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between the Tibet region of China and India. In its preamble, it stated that the two governments have resolved to enter into the present Agreement based on the following principles:-

  1. Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
  2. Mutual non-aggression
  3. Mutual non-interference
  4. Equality and mutual benefit
  5. Peaceful co-existence.