India-China Strategic Relations - A Study

Mr. Rakesh


China and India, both Asian giants and emerging world powers, have begun to exercise immense influence in international political and economic affairs. As China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is much larger than that of India, it enjoys a correspondingly greater international clout at present. Political and economic relations between India and China are much better now than they have ever been since the 1962 border war between the two countries. Mutual economic dependence is growing rapidly every year, with bilateral trade increasing at a brisk pace. Even though it is skewed in China’s favour, bilateral trade has crossed US$ 70 billion and is expected to touch US$ 90 billion soon. If India’s trade with Hong Kong is included, China is already India’s largest trading partner. However, growth in the strategic and security relationship has not kept pace with the political and economic relationship. Despite prolonged negotiations at the political level to resolve the long-standing territorial and boundary dispute between the two countries, there has been little progress on this sensitive issue. China has a clandestine nuclear warheads-ballistic missiles-military hardware technology transfer relationship with Pakistan that causes apprehension in India. Also, in recent years, China appears to have raised the ante by way of its shrill political rhetoric, frequent transgressions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and unprecedented cyber-attacks on Indian networks. The security relationship has the potential to act as a spoiler in the larger relationship and will ultimately determine whether the two Asian giants will clash or cooperate for mutual gains. Arguably, while the India-China relationship is relatively stable at the strategic level, China’s political, diplomatic and military aggressiveness at the tactical level is acting as a dampener.

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