Friends and foes: The rocky China-Indian relations

Recently, the 1st of April marked the 70th anniversary of the inception of diplomatic relations between India and China. There is no denial of the significance of these relations at a global level. Fast-forwarding to almost a month later, a video went viral showing a clash between soldiers of the respective countries. Tensions flared up throughout the Himalayan border between India and China. The bone of contention actually lies along the disputed area ‘line of actual control’ which separates the control over the region of both countries. Though the first clash took place on 5th May, when Indian and Chinese soldiers had strife, and both clashed at Pangong Tso lake, which is shared by India and Tibet—a part of China (as China claims), the dissonance can be dated back far before the independence of India from the British, and more or less British powers could also be held liable for this lack of consensus among India and China.

However, to understand these conflicts, we should understand the underlying philosophies of the involved countries before beginning the blame game. Here, India up until now has been much more focused on the five principles of peaceful coexistence, also known as the Panchsheel Treaty, and has tried not to maintain an offensive stance.

On the other hand, China believes in the principle put forth by Mao Zedong, who is considered to be the founding father of the People’s Republic of China. Mao suggested a Hand, Palm and fingers plan, in which he regarded China as the hand, Tibet as its palm, and the five fingers according to him were the Himalayan states of Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan and Nepal. This has been the expansionist plan of China ever since.

Apart from this, in the western sector which includes Ladakh and Aksai Chin region, China has been using a cartographic aggression technique, by showing the Macartney-MacDonald line Indo-China border, which gives Aksai Chin, an eastern part of the state of Kashmir to China. The war of 1962 to subjugate Aksai Chin is justified by the same cartographic aggression by using the Macartney-MacDonald line.

Traces which lead to the fact that the British imperialists could also be held liable for all this dissonance can be found in the failure of the Simla Convention. This treaty also defined the boundaries between India, Tibet, and China. All these countries had plenipotentiaries of their own and participated as sovereign states. Later when the draft was put forth, China objected and backed out, as it had clear intentions of expanding its territory. This was in the year 1914, and there was no objection brought by the British government. which ruled India at the time. The one and only underlying reason behind all of this is that Britain needed the support of China, as the World War I, was going on, and it could not afford losing potential allies in the war.

However, India has been striving to maintain its borders as of now, no one can deny that it has been facing threats from different dimensions apart from China, but both the countries cannot afford to wither a long maintained diplomatic relationship. Though India, for now, has substantially improved a lot in ways of maintenance of its borders, it has to be ready for all the circumstances it can possibly face in near future.


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